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Blood banks running low; donations needed

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- The snow in Cheyenne this winter has caused a blood supply crisis in the Rocky Mountain region, which includes South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Northern Colorado. 

The last couple snows have lost the Rocky Mountain region more than 35 blood drives to cancellation, compounding the dramatic decrease in blood donorship nationwide, said Tom Nichols, United Blood Services donor recruiter for Warren. 

"Nationally, the blood supply is at a substantial low," he said. 

Cheyenne is not exempt from the shortage. Local blood associations are appealing to the media and community for help. 

"That is why the base is so important: F. E. Warren makes up a pretty substantial percentage of the populace in Cheyenne," Mr. Nichols said. "We just need to get people to donate, and that is why we have developed a plan." 

Warren has been donating blood all along, but in the last few months there has been a decrease in blood donations. The plan creates more diverse opportunities for individuals to donate, helping heavily scheduled troops find convenient times to give blood. 

"We are trying to reach the largest cross-section of the base," Mr. Nichols said. "That is why we are asking smaller organizations, besides the wing, to sponsor blood drives." 

Group and organizational representatives will arrange smaller drives with the wing blood drive coordinators or will urge their units to bolster previously existing drives. 

Mr. Nichols expects this new plan to almost triple the current donation rate. 

The military often has members who cannot donate. 

Mr. Nichols explained the best way to find out ineligibility is to call United Blood Services or visit http://www.bloodhero.com. 

In the military, there are types of disqualifications that are not permanent, deferring the donor only for a year such as receiving a tattoo and returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Mr. Nichols asked people to not self-defer but instead call the center. 

"They can tell you in minutes if you are eligible," he said. 

Spouses and children 17 or older are encouraged to give blood as well. 

Dates for upcoming blood drives are Feb. 14 and 15, March 13 and 14 and April 17 and 18.