United States faces critical blood supply shortage
United States blood supply used for transfusions is extremely weak – a situation that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to news reports.
Last week, the American Red Cross, which provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood donation, reported it was experiencing a “severe blood shortage,” according to a declaration organisation.
The Red Cross usually carries enough donated blood to last five days if donations suddenly stop, according to the Boston Globe. But now the offer of type O blood – the most requested blood group for transfusions since it can be given to people of any blood group – would only last half a day, the Globe reported.
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The shortage extends to blood donation centers across the United States.
“The current state of the blood supply is the most concerning I have seen in my career,” said Dr. Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer of the American Association of Blood Banks. ABC News.
“The majority of blood centers are now reporting a blood supply of a day or less, well below the levels they normally strive for,” Cohn said.
A number of factors have contributed to the shortage. Blood donations typically decline during the summer months when people go on vacation and schools, which hold blood drives, are closed, the Globe reported. But the pandemic has only made the problem worse – fewer and fewer people participate in blood drives in general, and many blood donation centers are still understaffed, the Globe reported.
Additionally, hospitals have seen an increase in the number of patients coming for surgeries they had postponed during the pandemic, increasing the demand for blood.
“Some hospitals are forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying essential patient care,” said Chris Hrouda, president of biomedical services at the Red Cross, in the press release.
US hospitals have also seen an increase in cases of trauma requiring transfusions. Compared with 2019, the demand for blood in trauma centers has increased by 10%, according to the Red Cross.
The shortage could lead to further delays in elective surgeries and cause hospitals to implement even stricter criteria for the use of blood products in patients, ABC News reported.
“This means blood may not be available to all patients when it is needed, resulting in suboptimal care for some patients,” Cohn told ABC News.
Those interested in donating blood can make an appointment via the Red Cross or American Association of Blood Banks.
Originally posted on Live Science.