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Vitalant urges Gen Z to donate blood amid national shortage

Vitalant brings a mobile blood donation vehicle to campuses including Cal Poly. The nonprofit says it's a good way to reach younger donors.
Vitalant brings a mobile blood donation vehicle to campuses including Cal Poly. The nonprofit says it's a good way to reach younger donors.

As the national blood shortage continues to affect hospitals and healthcare providers across the country, many are looking to younger generations, including Gen Z, to help make up for the decrease in blood donations.

The blood donation nonprofit Vitalant operates nationwide, providing blood and blood products to hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The organization is reporting a severe shortage of blood donations as well as a significant drop in donations from Gen Z in recent years. They’re calling on eligible donors to step up and help address the crisis.

The shortage is also affecting San Luis Obispo county. Laura Kamada, senior account manager at Vitalant in SLO says 60% of their blood donations in the area come from people over 40.

“And we really need more younger people to come out and donate blood because although we have an older demographic coming out to donate they are aging out of the system, so if they're taking certain medications or if they're traveling somewhere or other things, they might not be able to donate. So it's really important that we get the younger generation to come out and donate now to make them lifetime donors for the future,” Kamada said.

Vitalant's headquarters has a a lab to donate blood anytime.
Gabriela Fernandez
Vitalant's headquarters has a a lab to donate blood anytime.

Kamada says one reason for the decrease in Gen Z donations is the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult for blood drives to take place on campuses. The pandemic has also made some people hesitant to participate in in-person events like blood donation drives.

However, Kamada says the donation process is completely safe, as Vitalant continues to follow safety and cleaning protocols. She wants younger generations to feel comfortable while donating blood.

“It's so important that you donate blood and especially if we know Gen Z, their key core factors are like social justice, right? We know that you guys want to help people out and this is a great way to help people out and it doesn't cost any money, it just takes an hour of your time,” she said.

Kamada says Vitalant is taking steps to make blood donation more convenient and accessible for all donors. The organization is offering extended hours at donation centers and mobile donation sites, as well as creating awareness campaigns that resonate with Gen Z.

Vitalant is also partnering with San Luis Obispo schools and universities to hold blood drives and other donation events on campus. The organization is reaching out to student organizations and clubs to encourage participation and raise awareness about the importance of blood donation.

Kamada believes that educating younger generations about blood donation is crucial. She says donating blood can help save a lot of lives.

“When I first started working here it was the day after the Las Vegas shooting, so I saw firsthand people needing blood. And I had a friend that was at the concert, who was okay, but she explained in detail how scary it was and how many people were injured, so it makes you want to help out,” Kamada said.

Kamada says addressing the national blood shortage will require the participation of all eligible donors, including Gen Z.

You can visit the Vitalant website at vitalant.org to learn more about eligibility requirements and schedule an appointment.

Eden Funk is from Newport Beach, CA, and a third-year journalism student at Cal Poly. She's passionate about writing, editing, and broadcasting. Some of her hobbies include traveling, hiking, going to the beach and trying new restaurants.
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