Blood and staff shortages at LifeServe Blood Center


DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s a call we hear every summer: blood donors are needed. LifeServe Blood Center says a shortage of donors and now staff members as well is making the situation critical.

“Unfortunately when we really need the blood products, we’re also having to cancel mobile blood drives because we just don’t have enough bodies to be able to support those and our donor centers,” Danielle West, director of marketing and public relations at LifeServe, said. “So we absolutely still need blood donors to come in and we’re hoping that they can come find us at a donor center.”

West says right now, there’s only a one to two day supply of all blood products on LifeServe’s shelves. She calls that concerning in the midst of “trauma season” when demand is increased, but also notes it’s pretty rare that they ever have a strong supply of blood. 

“Normally we’re always calling out for need because we know we always want more on the shelf,” West explained. “Just in case something happens, we want to be prepared and we’re usually not at that four or five day supply of every blood product.”

Even if there is supply, blood can only last so long on the shelf. Red cells expire after 42 days, platelets expire after 5 days, and plasma can be frozen up to a year.

LifeServe provides blood products to 120 hospitals across Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. West said they haven’t had to call off any surgeries yet, but they have had to cut back on how many blood products they’re sending to certain hospitals. If supply doesn’t increase, they will have to contact those hospitals about next steps.

“We have not been at these levels for quite some time, so it’s a scary situation,” West said. “We don’t ever want to go to our hospitals and say we don’t have the blood that they need for their patients and we’re hoping we don’t have to get there if people can come in and give in July and August and kind of help boost the blood supply going into this time.”

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a donor or worker at LifeServe, click here.

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