FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — According to a press release, the Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) has less than half of the blood supply needed, threatening a critical blood shortage for local patients and creating an immediate need for blood donors. 

The national blood supply has stayed near emergency levels for months, having never recovered from COVID-related challenges. Arkansas’ supply has faced similar challenges, as well as blood drive cancellations after multiple winter weather events in February and March. Hospital demand has surged past pre-pandemic levels, exacerbating the issues caused by lower donation levels.

“All indicators are pointing us in a dangerous direction,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “Over the last several weeks donation numbers have dipped, which have left us struggling to keep stock levels necessary to protect our community. We need donors to respond immediately to help friends and neighbors using blood.”

In response to the current situation, Arkansas Blood Institute has extended its donor room hours to expand giving opportunities:

  • Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Russellville donor center is closed on Saturday, and open for platelet donations only on Sunday.

“Nationally, we’ve not faced an ongoing blood shortage like this before,” Armitage said. “The pandemic created this crisis, and we are still caught with its damaging hangover effects. While the challenge is immense, so is the support of our donors, blood drive sponsors, and partners. Together, we must and will find a way.”

According to ABI, blood donation takes about an hour and can save up to three lives. Donors can find locations to donate at arkbi.org or by calling 877-340-8777.