DETROIT – A national blood shortage is impacting hospitals around Metro Detroit. Some hospitals have been forced to make changes and are asking the public to roll up their sleeves to help out.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic caused a drop in blood donations, but there was also less blood needed as many surgeries were put on hold.
Now that things are returning to normal, the need for blood has increased faster than donations are coming in.
Blood and its components -- platelets and plasma -- all have a limited lifespan, which means they always have to be replenished through the generosity of others. Recently, the donation side has caught up with the demand, which created an unprecedented shortage.
“It’s imperative that people get out and donate blood,” said Dr. Craig Fletcher. “I’ve been a doctor for 20 years, I’ve been a blood banker for 10 years and I’ve never seen a shortage of blood this severe in my time in practice.”
Fletcher is the system medical director of the blood bank for Beaumont Health. He said the blood shortage has been impacting surgeries for nearly a month now.
“As a system, we’re looking at our elective surgeries and cases the day before those cases go to the operating room and evaluating if they’re elective cases that can be rescheduled,” Fletcher said. “We have been rescheduling some elective cases.”
“We do know that, unfortunately, as a result of the shortage, some hospitals are being forced now to kind of slow the pace of those elective surgeries until their blood supply stabilizes. Which is, of course, delaying crucial patient care,” said Todd Kulman, with the American Red Cross. “Trauma cases are up. Hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas. Trauma centers demand for red cells has increased by 10% this year compared to 2019.”
The summer usually sees a drop in blood donations, as people take time for vacations and there are fewer blood drives at schools on break, but things have been especially serious recently.
If you are able to donate blood, you can make an appointment by calling the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.