opinion logo

Imagine being told your upcoming surgery must be delayed because of a lack of donor blood. Or that because of a diminished donor supply, there is not enough blood available to give to your loved one during an emergency situation.

Citing fewer donors because of the pandemic and summer holidays and an increase in trauma counts and surgeries draining the supply, blood providers across the nation are putting out an urgent call for blood donations to avoid these potential scenarios.

A local provider, ImpactLife, formerly known as the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, is joining others across the United States in reporting critical blood shortages. ImpactLife officials say that over the past few weeks, it has collected approximately 85% of its weekly blood donation goal, leaving this local provider of blood components to more than 120 hospitals with just a one- to three-day supply of most blood components.

ImpactLife, which serves local hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, seeks to collect approximately 3,600 donations every week. By consistently collecting donations at that level, ImpactLife can support a five- to seven-day supply of all blood components. In recent weeks, collections have been near 3,000 donations per week, on average, due to reduced mobile drives that began with the COVID-19 pandemic and low donations following Memorial Day.

The agency says that with another summer holiday coming, it has not been possible to replenish supplies to levels needed and prolonged shortages may impact patients who are waiting on procedures like cancer treatment and surgeries.

The American Red Cross is issuing a similar appeal, noting a rise in the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries requiring blood products over recent months. Red Cross officials say those needs have depleted the nation’s blood inventory, causing the American Red Cross to appeal to the generosity of Americans for immediate action.

The Red Cross says its teams are working around the clock to meet the extraordinary blood needs of hospitals and patients – distributing about 75,000 more blood products than expected over the past three months to meet demand – but can’t do it without donors.

Right now, hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen red cell demand from hospitals with trauma centers climb by 10% in 2021 – more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide transfusions. Twenty to 40% of trauma deaths that occur after hospital admission involve massive hemorrhaging. In these dire circumstances, doctors may need hundreds of blood products, depending on the severity of the trauma, to help save a life, the Red Cross says.

In addition, there is great hospital demand for blood as patients who previously deferred care during the COVID-19 pandemic present with more advanced disease progression, therefore requiring increased blood transfusions.

Also of note, the Red Cross says all blood types are needed but with less than half a day supply available of type O blood in recent weeks, there is an emergency need for type O donors.

Type O is the most needed blood group by hospitals. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.

To set up a time to donate to ImpactLife, call (800) 747-5401, schedule online at www.bloodcenter.org, or use the Blood Center’s mobile app at www.bloodcenter.org/app.

To set up an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible through the Red Cross, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Let’s all do our part to make sure it is there when needed.

Trending Video