BLOOD DRIVE: First Ever Blood Crisis?


By Staff Reporters



Most hospitals seem to have enough blood in their inventory to meet the immediate needs of patients. That’s no small feat given that just this past January, the American Red Cross declared the “first-ever blood crisis,” indicating the country was experiencing “its worst blood shortage in over a decade” amid the omicron surge.

While blood centers and hospitals aim to have at least a five-day supply of blood—enough to treat trauma patients, surgical cases, blood disorders, and other issues—facilities nearly reached blood insolvency during the crisis. The Red Cross said it saw donor turnout dip after the delta variant became dominant in summer 2021, which continued as omicron took over, until blood supplies reached crisis levels in January.

“We went down to many blood centers having only a one-day supply on their shelf,” said Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer at the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB), a nonprofit that develops standards for the industry and accredits blood centers. “Which means one significant event—like a big car crash or a natural disaster or a human-made disaster—could have wiped out the blood supply for that particular metropolitan area.”

Closing up shop: Covid lockdowns shuttered traditional venues for blood drives, including businesses and schools. Even after workers returned to the office and students to classrooms, many organizations were hesitant to allow in-person events to occur in their facilities, including blood drives.

Paying the price: Another dagger undermining the stability of the nation’s blood supply has been a drop in the price paid for blood. Changes in medical practice, like the introduction of minimally invasive procedures, have decreased demand for blood, and hospitals have been able to pay less for it.

MORE: Keep reading here.




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