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A gurney sits empty in a hallway inside the Copeland, Forbes and Rossi Cardiac Care French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 9, 2024. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Blood donations are urgently needed to help make sure people who are facing potentially life-threatening situations have the necessary supply levels at Central Coast hospitals when going through emergency treatment.

“Blood is vital for a lot of things in the hospital,” said Dr. Thomas Vendegna, French Hospital Medical Center Chief Medical Officer. “It is absolutely vital that we have that blood product available in a timely fashion and sometimes in an emergent fashion to save the patient’s life.”

Currently, blood supply levels in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are low.

According to Vitalant, which supplies blood to 22 area hospitals, there is only enough to last about two days, half of the desired four-day supply goal.

“It’s extremely nerve-wracking,” said Vendegna. “If you think about it, you’re going in, you have a loved one who needs major surgery, and all of a sudden you come into an emergency situation within surgery and you have only one or two units available. That’s very concerning for the surgeons, for the nurses, for the whole staff, so it’s nice to have that backup, that supply that, you know, that would help get that patient through that operation even if there’s an emergency situation.”

Vendegna added that supply levels need to be as high as possible should a significant large-scale traumatic event take place in the community.

“What if something happened that there is a mass casualty all of a sudden we need several units of blood, more than one day supply,” said Vendegna. “You always have to be ready for that event.”

With the local supply levels dipping down to concerning quantities, Vitalant is asking the public to help boost numbers by donating blood.

“One pint of blood can see up to three lives,” said Laura Kamada, Vitalant Senior Account Manager. “Blood is a great way to give back to your local communities, and it only takes an hour of your time. We’re not asking for your money. We’re just asking for your time, and you can really help save some lives.”

While blood can be donated anytime, Vitalant, along with News Channel, would like as many people as possible to take part in the upcoming 6th Annual News Channel Day of Service Blood Drive on Monday, Jan. 15.

“We are so excited,” said Kamada. “It’s a great way to give back to your community, and especially if your New Year’s resolution is to help your local community, this is a great way to give back.”

The Day of Service Blood Drive will be held next Monday, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Vitalant blood centers in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.

The goal is to have at least 100 donors take part and give during the seven-hour event. Currently, about 50 people have already signed up for appointments.

“Please help us support our hospitals here in our community,” said Vendegna. “Please help us so when we are in emergency situations for trauma or heart surgery or any other surgery, we have that supply available. Unfortunately, you can get into situations, especially in trauma and heart surgery in particular, where if you run out of your blood supply, it could mean the end of someone’s life.”

To learn more about the News Channel Vitalant Day of Service Blood Drive, and to schedule an appointment, click here.

The post Day of Service Blood Drive: Donations to help patients in life-threatening situations at local hospitals appeared first on News Channel 3-12.