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COVID-19 pandemic worsened blood supply crisis

The American Red Cross held a major blood donation event at the John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach...
The American Red Cross held a major blood donation event at the John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center to try and help with the critical shortage that is facing the nation.(Source: WMBF News)
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Hospital systems around the state and country are facing a shortage of blood as the number of patients filling hospital beds has increased. The pandemic forced people to work from home, businesses to close and schools to limit their activities. These factors restricted people’s access to blood drives.

The lack of labor to carry out the blood drives also curtailed the ability to collect blood. Additionally, there is a shortage of workers to transport the blood across the country. There has been a 10% decline in blood donations since March 2020, including a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives. This group made up about 25% of all donors in 2019, according to the American Red Cross’s website.

This scenario has forced hospitals to closely monitor blood use in the event blood supplies drop off, according to UW Health Surgeon Dr. Ann O’ Rourke.

“We’ve seen low supplies of blood for some time now, occasionally reaching levels we would consider dangerously low,” O’ Rourke said. “The pandemic has thrown a roadblock in our ability to collect blood for needed medical procedures and emergency situations.”

All blood types are needed, but Type O-positive, Type O-negative and platelets are in greatest need, according to the American Red Cross.

Dr. O’ Rourke said the blood supply was stretched to its limit with the recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and the increased severity of care for non-COVID-19 hospital patients.

“It’s a double-whammy; low supply and high demand,” O’ Rourke said. “We need people to get out and donate blood to ensure that there is blood for you when you need it.”

To find a place to donate blood near you, visit the American Red Cross website.

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