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Urgent blood donations needed as US blood supply reaches 'dangerously low level'

Tampa Bay blood centers desperate for donors
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Virus Outbreak Panama
Posted at 5:30 AM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 09:19:14-05

TAMPA, Fla.  — Blood donations are needed across the country as many blood centers report having less than a one-day supply of blood, according to the AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross.

In a joint statement, the groups said the U.S. blood supply has reached a "dangerously low level." The statement warned that lifesaving blood may not be available for patients who need it if the nation's supply doesn't stabilize soon.

"The current status of the U.S. blood supply is particularly concerning amid the holiday season and winter months — a time in which blood donations typically decrease due to travel, inclement weather and seasonal illnesses," the statement said.

The problem is also impacting local blood centers like OneBlood and SunCoast Blood Center. Plasma donors are also critically needed according to CSL Plasma.

The organizations say the holiday season is already a slow time for blood donations but the ongoing pandemic is making matters worse.

Many high schools, colleges and universities are no longer hosting blood supply drives. That accounts for 25% of the nation’s blood supply and 20% of OneBlood’s collections

“Many of those places have not resumed blood drives now for almost 2 years. That’s a big hit to the blood supply. You have to look for new places to go to make up for those donations," Susan Forbes of OneBlood explained.

People are working remotely so Forbes says corporate blood drives are not as busy.

“It’s important that people remember the blood supply because it’s playing a critical role in our community every single day in saving patients' lives and the need does not stop because there is a pandemic," she added.

Lauren Jennings of St. Petersburg and her sister are doing their part. The sisters have a pretty unique tradition of giving blood together.

A single donation takes just minutes but can save 3 lives and that's something the sisters know is critical if the tables ever turn.

“You never know when you’re going to be in need so helping to get ahead of that is good," Lauren explained.

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Leaders at America’s Blood Centers say if they aren’t able to get more donations, hospitals nationwide may need to postpone lifesaving treatments.

At OneBlood, leaders are doing everything they can to draw donors into their more than 200 buses and more than 90 donation centers with $20 electronic gift cards, giveaways and a new program that notifies those who give exactly where their blood ends up.

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John Ferrell of North Redington Beach donates blood quarterly and recently received one of those emails.

“They sent me a message just this last time and said we’ve used your blood for x case at x hospital and that just makes you feel great," he explained.

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Blood centers stress you can donate whether you’re vaccinated for COVID-19 or not and without spending a dime, you can make all the difference in someone else's life.

“There really is no greater gift than to be able to give someone their life back and that is exactly what blood donors do," Forbes said.

“The nation’s blood supply is in a very precarious state. Part of the challenge is that only 3% of the population donates for everyone. And while each donation can save up to three lives, the math doesn’t add up. There’s clearly an ongoing need for blood at area hospitals serving local patients," added Steve Malavé of SunCoast Blood Centers.

Two local blood centers are OneBlood and SunCoast Blood Centers. You can find more information on how to donate here: https://www.oneblood.org and https://suncoastblood.org

Anyone interested in plasma donation can visit: www.cslplasma.com [cslplasma.com], where you can find information on their locations in the Tampa Bay area.

You can also contact one of the following organizations to find a local blood collection site and to schedule an appointment to donate:

Note: The video version of our story noted that plasma donations are at an all-time low, CSL Plasma says while not at the lowest level, there is a critical and ongoing need for human plasma to produce life-saving medicines for people with rare diseases.