Why hospitals are facing a blood shortage and how to help

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:29 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Red Cross has declared its first-ever blood crisis amid the omicron surge, and it needs your help to prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

We checked in with a local doctor to see what the supply is looking like in hospitals.

“There’s always a need and last week we reached a literal danger of running out of some units all together,” said Dr. James Shikle at Augusta University Health.

The Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood and has had to limit products to hospitals as a result of the shortage.

“We are at the lowest blood supply that we have had at the Red Cross in 10 years. We literally have a one-day supply of blood products available, and typically we have five days,” said Susan Everitt, executive director of the American Red Cross of East Central Georgia.

Shikle says thanks to donors and leadership at the hospital, they never ran out.

“Just an overwhelming altruism of the community to show up and give blood in great numbers. I think this crisis has been averted, at least locally,” he said.

That does not mean the need is not there anymore.

Shikle says supplies can only last so long.

“The red cells that are donated today, in six weeks can’t be used. We’ve been able to supply platelets to patients in need, even though they only have a five- to seven-day expiration,” he said.

Everitt says many factors are playing a role in the shortage outside of just COVID.

“People have their regular cold and flu going around, plus winter storms, which we are starting to see everywhere, so that gets a lot of blood drives being canceled because of weather,” she said.

The best thing you can do is donate.

Shikle said: “Your average blood donor is my age, 57. We probably need to start recruiting younger and younger and get people in a lifelong habit of blood donation.”

Shepeard Community Blood Center has been holding mobile blood drives at AU Health. On Wednesday, it collected over 130 units of blood, which can potentially save 396 lives.

Upcoming Red Cross blood drives

  • Jan. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Liberty Park Community Center Gym
  • Feb. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Doctors Hospital

Visit https://www.redcross.org/give-blood.html to see upcoming drives across the CSRA.

Upcoming Shepeard blood drives

  • Jan. 14 from 9 a.m. to to 1 p.m. at the Georgia Cancer Center
  • Jan. 14 from 2-6 p.m. at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Visit https://www.shepeardblood.org/ to see upcoming drives across the CSRA.

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