A nationwide blood shortage is being felt in Utah as the need for local blood donors continues to rise, and hospitals and blood suppliers are struggling to fill critical inventory as demand increases amid one of the busiest times of the year – trauma season.
Officials from two major Utah health systems – Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health – are joining with two of the state’s leading blood suppliers – ARUP Blood Services and the American Red Cross of Utah – to address the shortage in a Zoom press briefing on Tuesday (7/6) at 10 am, MT.
They will be joined by two Utah patients (one an organ transplant donor and one a recipient), whose transplant procedure at Intermountain Medical Center was delayed recently and rescheduled due to low blood inventory.
Several factors are at play: rising trauma cases, a spike in surgeries and procedures that were deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic that are now being performed. Also, donor turnout appears to be lower than normal this summer, as Americans get their COVID-19 vaccine and resume summer travels and activities after more than a year of quarantining and limited activity due to the pandemic.
The need for blood donations across the nation is at an all-time high, including here in Utah.
The American Red Cross attributes the need to rising trauma cases as summer is underway, transplants, and surgeries which have depleted the nation’s blood inventory.
In addition to atypically high number of trauma cases, hospitals across the country are seeing people who put off necessary surgeries or deferred care during the height of the pandemic present with more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions.
During the last three months, the Red Cross has distributed an additional 75,000 blood products more than expected to meet these needs, significantly decreasing the national blood supply.
We’re asking that Utahns step up and donate during this critical time. It’s vital that we have enough blood to treat patients who are undergoing surgeries and procedures, as well as trauma patients who are brought in from the scene of an accident who are fighting for their lives.
Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled, it has a shelf life of about 42 days, so it must constantly be replenished by generous blood donors.
Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first to be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage.
Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is a no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
20-40% of trauma deaths that occur after hospital admission involve massive hemorrhaging, and doctors need a secure blood supply to help fight those odds. To save a life in these circumstances, hospitals may need hundreds of blood products depending on the severity of the trauma.
Donor turnout appears to be particularly lower than normal this summer, as Americans get their COVID-19 vaccine and resume summer travels and activities after more than a year of quarantining and limited activity due to the pandemic.
Healthy individuals are needed to donate now and throughout the summer to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Intermountain physicians predict the shortage may last 60 to 90 days.
To schedule an appointment, go to: www.redcrossblood.org or www.utahblood.org/
Hospitals and blood suppliers are struggling to fill critical inventory as demand increases amid one of the busiest times of the year – trauma season