Blood bank of Alaska closing two donation centers

Locations in Wasilla, Soldotna shutting doors due to low demand, not renewing leases

Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2009

WASILLA - The Blood Bank of Alaska is closing its donation centers in Wasilla and Soldotna because of a lack of demand.

Spokesman David Large said statewide demand for blood has dropped 10 percent in the last five months, following a national trend.

"With the increase in people losing their jobs, and with it their insurance, people are doing less elective surgeries," he told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

He said leases at the two branches are up at the end of the year, so it doesn't make sense to renew.

Blood Bank of Alaska, which supplies blood to 25 health care facilities, has three other fixed donation centers - two in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. The group also uses mobile clinics to gather donations from schools, businesses or areas away from a fixed center.

All donated blood is routed through one of two processing facilities, one in Fairbanks and one in Anchorage.

The Wasilla branch contributes 7 percent of the state's donations, and the Soldotna branch accounts for 5 percent. Large said the group will boost its mobile donation clinics in both Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula, and supplies to hospitals should not be affected.

Mat-Su Regional Medical Center gets its blood from processing facility in Anchorage, said Linda Olson, head of Infusion Services at the hospital.

"It shouldn't affect us," Olson said. "It would only make a difference if the supply of blood drastically decreased in the state."

But it will affect those who donate regularly in Soldotna and Wasilla.

Linda Shea donates blood every couple of months in Wasilla and has done so for many years. Now, she will have to wait for a mobile clinic because she avoids Anchorage at all costs.

"(Giving blood) is one of the easiest things we can do to save lives," Shea said. "But I'm not going to Anchorage."

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