ARUP calls bad economy, gas prices a ‘perfect storm’
October 24, 2008
The poor economy and high gas prices have slowed blood donations in the state, even as health officials brace for a sharp increase in demand, according to a spokesman for ARUP Laboratories.
The shortage makes drives such as the one being held at Deer Valley on Halloween more important than ever.
ARUP is the only blood bank used for medical procedures at the University of Utah Hospital, Shriners Hospital for Children and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
ARUP, which is owned by the University of Utah, holds blood drives at businesses and high schools, but as the markets have wavered, companies are less likely to let employees take time during the workday to donate. Add that to increased gas prices that have made it less feasible for donors to commute and hospitals have an incipient shortage on their hands.
Donations are especially important because state law prohibits blood drawn for pay from being administered to patients.
"It’s the perfect storm for us," ARUP representative Lance Bandley said Friday. "We saw a decrease in donations at the beginning of summer, when gas prices started to go up. A lot of our donors just couldn’t drive that kind of distance. Now we’re seeing a lot of our events cancel."
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They cancel, Bandley said, because employees who give blood have to step away from telephone calls and meetings, decreasing productivity. ARUP usually holds as many as three drives per day and draws from as many as 100 donors at each location. Recently, the number of donors per location has dipped.
Meanwhile, hospital demand has risen by about 25 percent since 2007, Bandley said. The increase can be attributed, in part, to more motorcycle and scooter accidents as commuters in the state turn away from gas-guzzling cars to save money.
"We’re just barely scraping by," Bandley said. "We’re not out of blood, but that little bit extra is gone."
In emergency, ARUP would struggle to supply trauma victims so representatives have renewed efforts to attract businesses to host drives. "We’re contacting anyone and everyone since we’re losing so many donors," Bandley said.
Give blood on Halloween
Every Halloween, Snow Park Lodge crawls with vampires. But rather than being bloodsuckers, these costumed do-gooders come to give blood.
"It’s our most popular costume, by far," said Kim Mayhew, Deer Valley Resort spokeswoman. "We encourage people to dress up."
Employees of Deer Valley will host their fifth annual "Transylvania Tea Party" blood drive on Oct. 31. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 pm.
The drive is open to community members who want to donate. Walk-ins are welcome, but Deer Valley staff encourages donors to make appointments.
It’s always a successful event," Mayhew said. "It really opens it up for people to step up."
Donors are required to show a photo ID. They must be at least 18 and weigh at least 110 pounds.
Organizers said giving blood is an easy and relatively painless way to help save lives. "Sometimes people worry about the slight pain from giving blood," Bandley said, "but it’s a lot less than the two-year-old with leukemia."