When news of the air show tragedy broke late Friday afternoon, the staff at United Blood Services raced to pull blood from the shelves, pack it and get it out the door to area hospitals: 120 blood products in the first wave, with more to follow.
"We sent O-negative and O-positive red cells right away," said Steve Thomas, Donor Recruitment Director at United Blood Services, this area's blood service provider. "O-neg is the universal blood type for red cells. It can be given to patients of any blood type in an emergency when there's no time to cross-match."
The center also sent platelets (the component that helps control bleeding) and AB plasma, which contains clotting factors and is used in trauma care. Just as O-negative is the universal type for red cells, AB-positive is the universal type for plasma.
The center was able to respond strongly and quickly because so many residents had donated blood following the shooting at the Carson City IHOP September 6.
"That blood was ready and available for the day-to-day routine treatments and for the unexpected. Once again, we see that it is the blood on the shelves that saves lives," Thomas said. He said it's especially important for people to donate regularly. "Three times a year is a great goal."
While many in Reno are donating blood this weekend, Thomas encouraged people to make appointments now to donate in the weeks and months ahead. Appointments are available online at www.UnitedBloodServices.org or by calling 324-6454
Even as area residents lined up to donate blood, United Blood Services' sister centers in Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Phoenix worked closely with Southwest Airlines to ship blood that will help meet continuing needs of people hurt on Friday. Thomas said blood donated this weekend requires time to test and process, and won't be available for transfusion until later in the week. The support from the other United Blood Services centers will help the center bridge that gap.