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SWLA blood drive sparked by major nationwide blood crisis

The worst blood supply shortage in more than a decade
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:41 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The COVID surge is impacting so many facets of life, and in a roundabout way, even the nation’s blood supply.

Some hospitals are asking patients to delay major, much-needed surgeries. The American Red Cross says it’s due to a blood supply crisis - the worst shortage in more than a decade.

The American Red Cross also says doctors are forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who has to wait until more product becomes available.

Local medical professionals are making their plea for donations. SWLA Center for Health Services Communication Specialist Jasmine Abel says Tuesday’s blood drive was also prompted by national blood donor month.

“We are just trying to get people in the community to donate blood for people in our community who are in need of it,” Abel said.

The SWLA Center for Health Services teamed up with Lifeshare Blood Center to host a blood drive.

“We know that one donation could possibly save up to three lives, so we want to be able to do that today,” Abel said.

The American Red Cross says the blood supply is depleted, and some hospitals are forced to discourage patients from major surgeries including organ transplants.

“The decline in blood has been happening for a while now, but everything just starts getting dangerously low within the wintertime, because a lot of people don’t really go out during the wintertime to go and donate blood,” Abel said.

The pandemic could also be playing a role in the low turnout.

“It’s hard these days to have a good turnout as far as that because of COVID - especially with the spikes that are going on right now,” Abel said.

Lifeshare nurse Keyana Cahee says even after a COVID infection, you can still help.

“As long as you’ve been clear of COVID for 14 days, you can give blood,” Cahee said.

Patients also go through a screening process before donating to ensure they are healthy and eligible to give.

Lifeshare Blood Center holds events like this seven days a week across the region, and you can find a schedule of where their truck is traveling each day HERE.

Here are some other things the American Red Cross is attributing the blood crisis to:

  • 10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020.
  • 62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for ~25% of donors in 2019 accounted for just ~10% during the pandemic.
  • Ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations.
  • Additional factors like a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season may compound the already bad situation.

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