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Straight Talk: Urgent need for blood donations

Bloodworks Northwest is calling on Washington and Oregon residents to give blood this holiday season as nationwide shortage continues.

PORTLAND, Ore. — When it comes to the need for blood, there is no holiday. It was one week before Christmas on December 18th, 2017, when the Amtrak 501 passenger train headed from Seattle to Portland derailed near Olympia

Three people died and 57 others were injured. The injured passengers were taken to local hospitals and received 150 blood donations made by members of the community. The accident is a powerful reminder the region needs to be prepared for the next emergency. However, the U.S. and the Pacific Northwest face a critical blood shortage.

That need prompted Governors Jay Inslee and Kate Brown to recognize Saturday, December 18th, 2020 as Washington and Oregon Blood Donor Day.

Credit: AP
The engine from an Amtrak train crash onto Interstate 5 on Monday, is checked by workers before being transported away from the scene, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in DuPont, Wash. Federal investigators in the deadly train wreck want to know whether the engineer was distracted by a second person in his cab as his train hurtled into a curve at more than twice the speed limit. The train took a 30 mph curve at 80 mph and plunged off an overpass, sending rail cars plummeting onto a busy highway south of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Blood donations needed ahead of next emergency

Bloodworks Northwest supplies a significant portion of the blood for the region's hospitals. Spokesman Juan Cotto said immediately following the Amtrak derailment, people lined up around their blood donation centers in Oregon and Washington to support the victims. However, it's important to keep the shelves stocked before an emergency happens. 

In December, as people travel and are busy with holiday preparations, donations often go down— and right now the shelves need stocking.

RELATED: 'Worst of the worst' situation for local blood supply, Portland doctor warns

"It's important to understand that during certain times of the year blood donations go down. Those blood donations that helped the [Amtrak derailment] victims were collected two weeks before the accident. So it emphasizes the immediate need for blood donations," Cotto said.

WATCH: 'Declan the Dinosaur' leaves lasting legacy after cancer battle 

How to make an appointment to donate blood

Cotto was a guest on this week's episode of "Straight Talk" to encourage Oregon and Washington residents to donate a pint of blood during this critical time. The pandemic has impacted how Bloodworks NW can collect blood donations. Donors must make an appointment on the Bloodworks Northwest website here.

He said the process has been streamlined so donors can fill out a questionnaire ahead of time online, and once they go to a donor center the process is quick and easy.

"And really coming and giving blood is as simple as making a haircut or other appointment. You can get in and get out in less than half an hour," he said.

RELATED: Vancouver boy, dubbed 'Declan the Dinosaur,' leaves lasting legacy after cancer battle

Credit: KGW Staff
Declan Regan's life was prolonged thanks to blood donations.

Hope: A goal of 10,000 donors by December 31st

Bloodworks and its community partners set a goal of 10,000 new blood donors by the end of the year. Donors are urged to take part in a statewide virtual blood drive through December 31st. Use the code "Hope" at your appointment check-in to have your donations count toward the goal.

Blood donations stay local

Cotto said the blood donations stay local and help people in donors' communities.

"It's the season of giving. You can give back to your community. Think about the patients getting cancer treatments now, or emergency surgeries, even planned surgeries during the holidays. This is a great way to give back to folks in your own neighborhood," he said.

You can sign up to donate blood here.

"Straight Talk" airs Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 6:30pm, and Sunday at 9:30pm.
"Straight Talk" is also available as a podcast.

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