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.
What can you do to help? The number one thing you can do to help our hospital is to donate blood. We prefer if that you donate through LifeSouth, as the blood donated stays in our area. This means that when you donate blood at a LifeSouth Bloodmobile or at any of the LifeSouth Donor Centers, you can rest assured that you are helping people in need in your community. You do not need to know your blood type before you go in to donate- the LifeSouth staff can tell you your type. There are eight main blood types, and people can only receive certain types of blood that are compatible with their own. If they receive incompatible blood, their body will reject it and they could die. The one exception is Type O-negative blood, which is compatible with all other blood types. If you do happen to know your blood type, the most in-need types are Type O-positive, Type O-negative and, of course, platelets, but LifeSouth welcomes donors of every blood type, especially in this nationwide shortage.
This month is National Blood Donor Month, and now, more than ever, we need donors like you to help us circumvent this blood shortage crisis. Please consider donating blood! Our next blood drive at Medical Center Barbour will take place of February 3rd right in front of our hospital, and you can even schedule your appointment ahead of time by clicking here.