(COLORADO SPRINGS) — January is National Blood Donor Month and Vitalant, a non-profit blood service provider, said there is a great demand right now for blood donors.

“So here at Vitalant we’re unfortunately seeing an emergency shortage of blood across the U.S. and here in Colorado as well,” said Vitalant Communications Manager, Brooke Way. “And we are seeing our smallest supply of blood donation since a years time and it’s really impacted our supply here for hospitals.”

Specifically, Vitalant cited the lack of donors since coming out of the pandemic.

“Something that’s really concerning right now as we are seeing a 20% drop in the number of donors coming to visit us since before the pandemic,” Way said. “So it’s a drastic drop in the amount of people coming in to give blood.”

Vitalant serves 95 hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout Colorado. The non-profit has 10 donation centers in Colorado, which can be found online.

“So Vitalant is the nation’s largest nonprofit independent blood services provider. And we have ten donation centers across Colorado,” Way said. “And we are also a nationwide network, which is really amazing because if someone needs blood and they don’t have it in a certain state, we are able to send it where and when it’s needed most.”

After the tragedy at Club Q, Vitalant was able to help victims thanks to the blood donations they had.

“So unfortunately, in that situation and that tragic shooting at Club Q,” Way said. “We did send multiple units of blood to the hospitals that evening to help those victims.”

Blood donations at Vitalant location in Colorado Springs

On Wednesday afternoon, Maury Smith was at the Vitalant location in Colorado Springs donating blood.

He shared he donates because “there’s such a big need for it, whether it’s the guys overseas fighting wars and that or just trauma accidents, so cancer patients, everybody needs it. So it makes me feel good.”

Smith said he donates every eight weeks and encourages everyone to come in and donate.

“Very easy, it’s no big deal and it doesn’t take long,” Smith said.

Way recommended making an appointment for blood donation, but Vitalant does accept walk-in donors.

“So, you know, that includes a quick health check at the beginning,” Way said. “You get a mini physical, when you come visit us, you check your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your hemoglobin level. So that’s kind of a nice part for you as a donor.”

A sign advocating for donors at Vitalant in Colorado Springs

The donation time at Vitalant takes less than an hour and can save up to three lives.

Vitalant shared they are in need of all types of blood but there is a high demand for type O blood.

“But we really are asking for those O type donations right now,” Way said. “O-positive is the most transfused blood type, and then owning it is the universal donor. So that can go to any patient, especially in those kind of emergency situations when there’s no time to test someone’s blood, type in those surgeries or those hours.”