LifeServe Blood Center, the nonprofit community-based blood supplier in Central Iowa, is seeking the Greater Des Moines business community’s help to rally increased donations during the high-need summer months, as labor shortages and a lack of donor turnout are causing the regional blood supply to dip to alarmingly low levels.

Normally LifeServe has sufficient blood supply for three to five days’ demand by the more than 120 hospitals it serves across the Midwest. Currently, however, the Des Moines-based regional blood center is down to about one day’s supply of certain blood types.

The nonprofit hasn’t been able to recruit additional staff fast enough to keep pace with two additional locations it has opened in the metro area that have brought its total number of donor centers to nine, a spokesperson said.  

With between 20 and 30 open staff positions remaining to be filled, the organization is temporarily shifting its focus toward filling donor slots at its nine local donor centers, in lieu of holding on-site community blood drives, beginning this week. “In an effort to ensure the adequacy of our community blood supply, we are shifting operations to utilize staff resources in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” said Danielle West, director of public relations and marketing with LifeServe.

Focusing blood collection efforts at the nine centers for the next two months will give LifeServe time to recruit, hire and train additional team members, she said. “We usually collect 60% of our blood in a mobile environment,” West said. “The next couple of months, I hope that people will find us in the donor centers.”  

Donor turnout levels are currently below pre-COVID levels, and are also less than the numbers of donations being made during the height of the pandemic in 2020, she said. “It was great during COVID last year because they [had the time] and could come out. Now, people are vaccinated and going about their normal lives.”

At the same time, the need for blood increases this time of year due to greater outdoor activities and more accidents. “We’ve seen a 5 to 10% increase in our hospitals,” West said. “We assume that’s going to continue as we go through summer. We’re feeling it in other areas [of the state] but feeling it the worst in Des Moines.”

LifeServe is asking business leaders to convey the significant need to their employees, and to urge their workers to consider scheduling to donate blood.

To schedule a blood donation appointment online, visit the LifeServe website at lifeservebloodcenter.org or call 800-287-4903.