Blood donors in Palm Springs are putting the city at the top of the valley’s ninth annual Nine Cities Blood Drive Challenge, LifeStream Blood Bank officials announced Monday.
At the halfway point of the two-month competition, which will continue through Aug. 31, organizers are urging Palm Springs and other Nine Cities residents to keep the blood donations coming as the nonprofit continues to contend with a dire shortage.
“We all can agree on this: Regardless of what valley communities reap Nine Cities championship titles, the real winners of the challenge are local hospital patients,” organizers said.
With Palm Springs currently in the lead, other cities participating in the challenge to have the greatest participation by percentage of population include Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage.
Palm Springs won the competition last year.
Healthy residents across the United States have been urged by health officials to donate blood during the pandemic to address a severe blood shortage that is negatively affecting blood product availability across the country. Donors of all blood types — especially type O and those giving platelets — are urged to give now and help ensure hospital shelves are stocked with blood products.
“The community wellness issue of available blood supply facing our communities is the most serious it has been in my 17 years with LifeStream,” LifeStream CEO and President Dr. Rick Axelrod said. “I implore my fellow valley residents to respond during the challenge to give local surgeons the life-giving fuel they need to treat their patients.”
LifeStream announced in June it was facing an “extreme” shortage of donated blood, putting the nonprofit at risk of not having enough supply for area hospitals. Generally, too, blood donations typically decline in the summer months.
Blood collected through donations to LifeStream flows to more than 80 hospitals in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego counties.
People who donate during the challenge receive a free T-shirt, and the winning city gets bragging rights for a year.
Potential donors must wear face coverings and maintain social distance while donating.
Donors who have received a COVID-19 vaccine may need to provide the manufacturer’s name when they donate blood. In most cases, there is no deferral time for individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Donors must be at least 15 years old, weigh at least 115 pounds, be free from infections or illnesses and not be at risk of having AIDS or hepatitis. Those under 17 years old must bring written consent from a parent.
Appointments are recommended and can be made by calling 1-800-879-4484 or at www.lstream.org.