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Blood donors needed as Arizona faces critical shortage

Arizona is facing a critical shortage of blood after donations fell during the holidays, the state’s primary blood supplier said Friday as it issued an urgent call for donors.

Arizona has less than a day’s supply of the universal blood type, O-Negative, and less than a two-day supply of O-Positive, which can be used on anyone with a positive blood type, according to Vitalant, the organization formerly known as United Blood Services. The group provides blood for 62 Arizona hospitals. There are shortages of other blood types as well.

Blood supplies always fall during the holidays, the slowest period for donations, but this year’s shortage is more severe than typical, said Sue Thew, a spokeswoman for Vitalant.

“It’s bad enough to think about people being in the hospital this time of year,” Thew said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about having an ample blood supply.”

"We're striving to try to build supplies up to normal levels which would be four days," Thew said.

Donors are needed to help patients like April Macak's son, Nathan.

"A bone marrow transplant or anything will never fix something like this. So in order to live, he needs blood transfusions," Macak said.

Nathan was born a healthy baby in 2014 until he became very sick at three months old.

"My son Nathan, his life depends on it and it will depend on it for the rest of his life in order to live," Macak said.

Doctors still haven't been able to diagnose Nathan's condition, but in order to survive, he needs blood. Those blood transfusions are made possible by those willing to donate their own for people in need, just like little Nathan.

"It's real. It's the people like Nathan that are receiving the blood and our hope is that by meeting someone like Nathan today, it will help people realize that its' not just a number when you give blood. There's a person behind that donation that's receiving your life-saving gift," Thew said.

Vitalant is seeking up to 600 donors for a massive blood drive on Sunday in Tempe. Scheduled blood drives in other areas can be found at BloodHero.com.