There’s a ‘Extreme Blood Scarcity’ within the U.S., Crimson Cross Says

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There’s a ‘Severe Blood Shortage’ in the U.S., Red Cross Says

As many Americans return to a prepandemic lifestyle, hospitals face a new problem: an urgent need for blood.

In recent months, hospitals have seen increases in trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgery, leading to national blood shortages, the American Red Cross said last week.

The blood shortage is so severe that some hospitals are putting the brakes on the pace of elective surgery and “delaying critical patient care” until the blood supply recovers, said Chris Hrouda, president of the Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a statement.

“The Red Cross is currently in a serious shortage of blood,” said Hrouda, adding that the organization had been working over the past three months to distribute more blood than expected. “But it doesn’t work without a donor. Somebody in the US needs blood every two seconds. “

The demand for blood is not new. There was also a shortage last year when blood donation centers had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But in some ways it seems worse than before. For example, during last year’s shortage, Brian Gannon, executive director of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Texas, said his organization had type O red blood cells for a day or two while the normal supply was three to four days’ worth it.

In the past few weeks, the Type O blood supply had decreased to half a day, according to the Red Cross, which said there was also an “emergency need” for platelet donation, half of which goes to patients undergoing cancer treatment .

Dr. Merlyn Sayers, president and CEO of Carter BloodCare, based in Texas, described the need for blood as a “national crisis.”

“Carter BloodCare is concerned about reaching the point where blood supplies are so compromised that patients who need a transfusion cannot be sure that the blood is there for them,” said Dr. Sayers.

The lack of blood is due to two challenges caused by the pandemic – closure and reopening, said Dr. Sayers.

“First and foremost, for more than a year the pandemic placed conditions such as social distancing that were detrimental to blood donation,” said Dr. Sayers, adding that many companies that normally supported blood donation campaigns in workplaces have closed. “And now, with the gradual lifting of restrictions, the demand for blood in hospitals has risen dramatically as patients who understandably avoided hospitalization for fear of Covid present for treatment.”

The Red Cross said that patients who did not seek treatment during the height of the pandemic in the United States showed up in hospitals with “advanced disease”, which in some cases required more blood transfusions.

In addition to patients who delayed treatment for fear of the virus, another possible reason for the increased need for blood is that as cities reopen, more people are exposed to potential dangers leaving their homes.

The Red Cross said hospitals across the country had responded to an “untypically high” increase in trauma cases and emergency rooms. The organization said the demand from hospitals with trauma centers increased 10 percent this year compared to 2019.

“Where there are more people on the road, there are probably more accidents. We’ve been quarantined for a long time, ”said Cameron Palmer, a community development coordinator at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston. “If more people are on the move, it can lead to more accidents, which can result in people needing more transfusions.”

The Gulf Coast regional blood center is still doing its blood draws, but hospitals have greater needs for blood, Palmer said.

“It’s not really a defect. It’s more of a use, ”he said. “It’s just that our hospitals are now charging more than expected.”

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