FARGO — The nation's largest nonprofit, Vitalant, which serves as the sole blood provider to nearly 70 hospitals across the Dakotas and western Minnesota is in need of healthy blood donors after declaring a critical shortage of blood as supplies have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All blood types are critically needed right now, with an especially high need for type O, A-negative and B-negative red blood cells. In addition, platelets are always needed by patients for cancer treatments, surgeries and emergencies. Because of its short shelf life—only 5 days—the supply of platelets must be continually replenished.

Donors are strongly urged to give blood as soon as possible by going online to vitalant.org or calling 877-258-4825 (877-25-VITAL).

Recovered COVID-19 patients have immune-boosting antibodies to the coronavirus in their plasma, which can be given to patients currently fighting COVID-19.

The U.S. Surgeon General and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have designated blood donation as an essential activity, encouraging healthy and eligible donors to continue to donate even amidst COVID-19 response measures.

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For more information on donating blood, view the PSA. To join the larger conversation about blood and plasma donations visit: Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter and use the hashtag #VitalToLife.