Blood donations slow

Nation faces largest shortage in a decade

Allison Marlow, Managing Editor, allisonm@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 1/21/22

Blood donations have slowed to a trickle in Alabama and across the nation meaning patients who need a blood transfusion may need to wait hours, even days for that help.Alabama requires 350 blood …

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Blood donations slow

Nation faces largest shortage in a decade

Posted

Blood donations have slowed to a trickle in Alabama and across the nation meaning patients who need a blood transfusion may need to wait hours, even days for that help.
Alabama requires 350 blood donations a day to meet the needs of hospitals across the state. Currently 71 percent of blood donation appointments every day in the state are unfilled.
"That's not good," said Annette Rowland with the American Red Cross, which collects 40 percent of the blood supply used nationally.
In some cities across the nation, low blood supplies have forced doctors to defer surgeries, including organ transplants. Experts are calling it the worst blood shortage in a decade.
Blood cannot be manufactured so donated blood is needed for all types of emergencies, from patients suffering illnesses to car accident victims. Rowland said people need to understand that when they give blood, they are directly helping their neighbor and maybe even themselves.

"When you get down to it, none of us know when we could need blood," she said. "Unfortunately, that means you or I or our mother, brother, sister, father could be in an accident tomorrow and need blood. If it isn't available that's an extra day or so that person doesn't have that help. That could be a life-threatening issue."
While blood donations often taper off in winter months due to winter weather and seasonal illness, the continuing pandemic has exasperated the issue.
Rowland said many regular donors are sick with or exposed to COVID-19. Others are homeschooling and can't schedule an appointment with their children in tow. Many organizations that normally host drives will no longer let the general public inside to limit coronavirus spread.
Blood drives have also been cancelled at schools and colleges during the two years of the pandemic's spread. College and high school donors accounted for 25 % of donors in 2019. During the pandemic that number dropped to 10%.
"There is a myriad of issues we have seen that have created one big blood crisis," Rowland said.
To find a blood drive near you visit www.redcrossblood.org or www.lifesouth.org.

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