HARLINGEN, Texas – It is a daily struggle for local blood banks. The Rio Grande Valley is facing a shortage of blood units available for local hospitals. After recent tragedies in El Paso, we find the region may not be prepared to meet demand for a sudden surge of recovering victims.
Frank Esparza, Vitalant Blood Services Regional Director, “To answer your question, if a tragedy like that were to happen, we would have to be importing really quick.”
Currently the center imports blood to meet shortage needs. According to Esparza, the RGV needs about 135 units blood every day and about 115 or less are collected locally. The rest are imported from other regions. Even more alarming, quick response may not be quick enough for critical situations.
“We have a lot of response, we have a lot of response in El Paso with people coming in to donate, but that blood won’t be ready for 3 days. If it’s not ready, then the people that need it right now will not have it.” Says Esparza.
Vitalant estimates that 5 percent of eligible Americans donate. For the RGV, that statistic is less than 2 percent. The director tells us that despite the shortage, the center is on standby willing to supply the El Paso region with necessary blood if called upon.
Esparza adds, “Blood that is collected in the Valley stays in the Valley because we don’t have any typically to send out.”
The organization is asking for your help and your donations to save lives in the Rio Grande Valley.
Vitalant has two centers in McAllen and Harlingen. For more information on donation hours or if you want to learn more on how the donation process, visit these links.