Blood drives held in Glendale, Tempe as state's supply runs critically low

Arizona's blood supply is taking a serious hit at the worst moment of the year for donations.

This holiday week typically has the lowest blood donations of the year. That’s on top of historic lows in donations in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Vitalant is holding two blood drives on Jan. 2 and 3 at Gila River Arena and Tempe Center for the Arts to try to boost the supply during a month where the most transfusions are typically needed.

Seeing so many blood donations means a lot to Glendale resident Kellie Miner. She still remembers what the doctor said to her mom about 15 years ago.

"He said, 'I’m sorry your child has about 2 hours to live. She has leukemia, we’re going to get her to PCH [Phoenix Children's Hospital] and get her the care she needs,' " said Miner.

She told FOX 10 that she once had to wait 30 hours for a transfusion because the state's blood supply was so low. Ultimately, she would need blood dozens and dozens of times.

"I had to have a blood and platelets transfusion just to sustain me to get to Phoenix Children’s Hospital," Miner said. "So throughout my first round with cancer and my second round with [my] bone marrow transplant, I had 131 blood transfusions to save my life."

That life-saving supply is low once again.

On Saturday morning, the Arizona Coyotes transformed Gila River Arena into a blood donation center.

"We can safely have individuals here, have protocols, and do this incredible donation of blood during this challenging time," said Xavier Gutierrez, CEO and president for the Coyotes.

Sue Thew, a representive with Vitalant, says in the last two months they’re down 8,000 donations because of the impacts of COVID-19.

"It’s very important we get a good turnout this weekend," Thew said.

January is typically the highest need month of the year for donations.

"We just came off the most difficult week of the year to maintain our state's blood supply," Thew said. "New Year's Eve to Christmas Day is a very challenging time."

Donating comes with coupons and perks as well. The second day of the drive is Sunday at the Tempe Center for the Arts from 7 AM to 4 PM.

For people like Kellie Miner, every donation can change the future: "I see life being saved."

Learn more about the Saving Arizona Blood Drivehttps://www.vitalant.org/SaveAZ

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