The American Red Cross announced that the nation is facing a blood shortage crisis – the worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. Doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more blood products become available. What is causing the blood shortage crisis? According to the Red Cross, there has been:
10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020.
62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for ~25% of donors in 2019 accounted for just ~10% during the pandemic.
Ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations.
Additional factors like a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season may compound the already bad situation.
These factors are causing hospitals like Medical Center Barbour struggle, since there is no substitute for human blood, and hospitals must rely on the kindness of donors to distribute blood to patients in need. And red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days while platelets have a shelf life of five days, meaning that hospitals have no way to stockpile blood. We truly are dependent on donors to help us provide lifesaving care to our patients.