Today we had to tell a patient with heart disease that the blood transfusions that have prolonged his life with marked improvement in quality could no longer happen at Rooks County Health Center due to a nationwide blood shortage. The patient and family were understandably upset. It’s one thing to hear about the blood shortage on the radio, TV or internet, but it’s entirely different to tell someone that something so common and easily given is in such short supply that their life may end prematurely due to lack of it.
We are canceling surgeries at our hospital and possibly even not delivering some babies because bleeding complications may require blood that we don’t have. Our stock of the common blood type A positive and donor O positive blood units are down over 30% from 6 units to 4 units. Universal Donor O negative blood has been in short supply for months, maybe years. Blood supplies are usually replenished for us by the American Red Cross every 3 weeks but recently they brought no new units to refresh our supply. What’s more, we can easily go through 3 to 4 units of blood for a critical trauma case or bleeding complications from delivering a baby, which then wipes out our precious supply of a blood type just to save one patient.
Why is this happening?
Demand is up.
Infectious illnesses like COVID-19 can cause bleeding ulcers from stress, suppressed bone marrow that won’t make red cells and hyper-clotting states that chew up blood cells. Not to mention all of the usual accidents, surgical complications and medical illnesses that require blood transfusions (like my patient).
Donations are down.
A few people provide most of the donated blood supply. Only about 2% of Americans donate. Some people can’t give because of current or recent illness. If your blood type is O, your type is the most requested by hospitals and desperately needed. If you are type A, guess what, most people are and it is the most used type, so you are still needed.
It sounds scary to donate blood but it’s actually very safe. Many questions are asked about your medical condition to make sure it’s safe for you to give as well as to make sure your blood is safe to donate.
Local blood drives at the hospital, K of C Hall and local community drives mean you take as little time off work as possible. I let my employees stay clocked in to donate blood. Just think, getting paid to just go lay around for an hour! The snacks and drinks afterwards are often homemade and very tasty!
Scheduling is easy.
Kandie Morain helps schedule here at the hospital and a phone call handles most of the rest of the opportunities. There’s even a great app that stores your blood type and donation history. You can even complete the health history in the app and check in before you arrive so your wait time is shorter when you get to the donation site.
I promise your donation will save a life. Please, please, help my patient! Help your neighbor, your fiend, your family, maybe even yourself. GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE.
And thank you in advance,
The next Plainville Community Blood Drive is in 2 weeks, February 7. Please give if you are eligible. You can schedule a time to donate by visiting https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).