LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — The flu epidemic has reached nearly every state, it’s the worst scenario in nearly a decade. It’s affecting schools, workplaces, hospitals and even the Arkansas Blood Institute.
Executive Director of the Arkansas Blood Institute, Paulette Nieuwenhof, said one of the things people forget about is how the flu can impact the blood supply.
Over the past few days, the number of donors has gone down and many of their regular donors haven't been able to show up.
“Either they've been affected by it or they're taking care of loved ones or family members and they're not able to come in,” she said.
Arkansas Blood Institute works with all the major hospitals in Little Rock and over 40 hospitals in central Arkansas.
“We're able to meet the immediate needs of our hospitals right now but we're concerned about the future. There is no substitute for blood and you can't manufacture it so we rely on our donors to come in and donate blood,’ she said.
They've started calling all of their regular donors to see if they can come in but say, that's no guarantee, and they say that's still not enough.
“If you do want to give blood, you have to be healthy and if you're 16 you have to have parental consent,” she said.
The whole process only takes an hour, according to dedicated 30-year donor, Don Wyatt.
“I can come spend an hour of my time and give somebody years of life potentially and to me that's a really good investment,” he said.
He said it's hard enough getting people to donate and he hopes people step up to help out.
“When we have something like this going on and people aren't here-it can be very tragic for those in need,” he said.
If you do have the flu or get the flu, you have to wait seven days from the time you're well again, to start giving blood again.