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Oregon, Washington recognize Dec. 18 as Blood Donor Day

Doctors and nonprofits like Bloodworks Northwest are encouraging blood donations to save lives amid a critical blood shortage.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The second annual Washington and Oregon Blood Donor Day was on Saturday to encourage people to give blood, especially as the nation faces a widespread shortage. 

The day is meant to recognize that a full supply of blood saves lives in the case of a mass trauma event. It specifically commemorates the Amtrack derailment near Tacoma on Dec. 18, 2017, in which three people died while heading from Seattle to Portland.  

Injured patients were treated with 150 units of blood donated by the community. According to Bloodworks Northwest, that made a big difference in saving lives. 

“There's a chronic, ongoing need for blood for a variety of reasons: medical reasons, dialysis patients, cancer patients,” said Dr. Ric Cole, trauma medical director at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. 

Cole said he sees a big need for blood in the emergency department all the time due to individual, life-threatening cases.

“It's not uncommon for us to give 20 or even 40 units of blood to somebody that's been severely injured,” he said.

RELATED: Yes, there is a nationwide blood shortage but it's not related to COVID vaccines

Donating blood maybe harder to keep in mind during the holidays, when people are focused on family and friends, and the pandemic has added another layer of concern. 

However, Dr. Cole said if people want to donate, Legacy's supplier, Bloodworks Northwest, and other blood donation facilities have a safe system for doing so.

“They shouldn't worry about going to the centers and donating blood. It's done in a very safe manner.”

Cole is asking the community to give blood before the year's end, because the need for blood does not take a holiday. This year, the goal was to get 10,000 donations by the end of the year.

“There is no substitute for blood and the only way you can get it is through human donors," he said. 

People can donate blood through Bloodworks Northwest as well as the American Red Cross, which said it is experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade.

RELATED: Straight Talk: Urgent need for blood donations


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