WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A shortage of blood bags caused by ongoing supply chain issues in the United States is affecting the Texas Blood Institutes’ supply of units of blood type O-negative, the universal donor.

O-negative is the only universal blood type, meaning O-negative blood can be transfused in an emergency to any recipient, regardless of their blood type. Due to its universality, O-negative blood is by far the most in-demand type used by area hospitals.

Texas Blood Institute supports the blood inventory for patients in eight major hospitals in the Texoma region.

Specialized bags are required to safely draw “double dose units” of blood from larger-sized donors. Without this efficient, bonus-giving option, TBI is struggling to collect enough O-negative blood, and more donors must be recruited to make up for the lost production. 

This urgent supply chain issue could very quickly impact area hospitals’ transfusions of trauma victims, premature babies, and sickle cell disease patients unless more O-negative donors step up now to donate blood.

“Sufficient O negative donations are a daily requirement for our mission,” Dr. John Armitage, President and CEO of Texas Blood Institute said. “When we don’t have the specialty bags we need to draw our doubly effective donations, we put both emergency and routine response capabilities at risk.”

These supply chain issues have exacerbated an already difficult situation as TBI enters the holiday season.

“Donation rates around the holidays are typically lower, and we’re fighting with a hand tied behind our back,” Dr. Armitage said.

To get the O-negative blood supply back in a healthy range, TBI officials said they need more members of our community to respond by giving blood today.

“Sadly, the supply chain foul-ups aren’t likely to get better anytime soon,” Dr. Armitage said. “From the last couple of years, we have all learned that broken manufacturing and delivery pipelines are never good; but in the blood world they aren’t just frustrating, they put lives and patient care at risk.”

Individuals of age 16 and older* are urged to give blood. Appointments to donate can be made online at txbi.org or by calling 877-340-8777. Walk-ins are welcome.

Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives.