The American Red Cross says it is experiencing a severe blood shortage and is urging people to donate.
Last week, the Red Cross, in partnership with NBC Connecticut, Telemundo CT and the Hartford Yard Goats, held the state’s largest single-day blood drive. The event was a great success, collecting 310 units of blood. It surpassed the goal of 300, yet that is only enough to keep Connecticut hospitals supplied for 1 day.
According to the American Red Cross explains there is a need for about 302 units of blood, each day in Connecticut hospitals. This comes in the midst of a national blood shortage.
“What has happened with America opening up after the pandemic, people are starting to take care of some of those medical procedures didn’t in the past,” said Peter Boucher of the American Red Cross.
In addition to trauma cases and organ transplants, elective surgeries that were delayed during the pandemic are now on the rise and have depleted the nation’s blood inventory.
“Over the last three months, we’ve distributed 75,000 more units of blood than we had anticipated,” said Boucher.
Dr. Michael Isakoff of Connecticut Children’s said they have not been dramatically impacted but they are planning accordingly.
“We have to be prepared for how to prioritize and only think about transfusing when absolutely necessary,” Isakoff explained.
Isakoff is the medical director overseeing cancer and blood disorders at Connecticut Children’s. With cancer and anemia patients often needing transfusions, the nation’s blood shortage is concerning.
“In my professional lifetime I have not seen anything like this and it’s just the perfect storm of the pandemic,” added Isakoff.
Isakoff explained that the shortage is due to a combination of factors. Many blood drives were canceled during the pandemic. This, coupled with a rising number of elective surgeries that have resumed, has created an imbalance.
According to the Red Cross, hospitals are also responding to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency transplants. Officials said the need for blood in trauma centers this year is up 10% from 2019. The Connecticut Hospital Association said state hospitals are evaluating the situation.
“The current shortage is severe enough to cause hospitals and other parts of the country to postpone elective surgeries and we would not want to see that happen here,” says Connecticut Hospital Association Communications Director Jill McDonald Halsey.
As the need continues to rise, there were those trying to help and were donating today in Manchester.
“There is a blood shortage and I really feel like this is something that I need to do,” said Elizabeth Swan of Manchester.
The American Red Cross operates blood donations each day and says it is aiming for 350 donations per day to meet the current demand.
To schedule an appointment, you can dial 1-800-RED CROSS or go to Redcrossblood.org.