In the last several weeks, blood centers across the U.S. have reported less than a one-day supply of some blood types. The organization attributed the shortage to several factors, including an increased need for blood, and a higher-than-usual rate of canceled blood drives due to illness, weather, and staffing limitations. As a result of this ongoing crisis, hospitals have been forced to cancel surgeries due to a lack of blood supply.
“Blood products, if you’re on a shortage, it’s not like you can go find some magic supplier. You can’t produce that on a whim. We need donors,” Lucas Wesoloski, a nurse at Lurie Children’s Hospital, told ABC 7.
Wesoloski himself was once a blood donation recipient himself and thus knows the importance of such donations. Wesoloski added that his patients are fighting multiple diseases, including cancer and blood disorders.
“It is draining, to say the least. Emotionally, physically,” Wesoloski said, noting that blood transfusions often can give patients the strength they need to fight. “It’s not something that is a luxury, it’s a need,” he said. “It’s something that our patients need to make it through their treatment.”
As the shortage continues, there are increasing concerns about what happens if donors are not found. As January is National Blood Donors Month, the Red Cross and other health care facilities across the country are pleading for help.“Our patients are begging them from their hospital rooms to go out and donate,” Wesoloski said.
“The blood supply is in a shortage situation and that’s a very dangerous scenario for patients in the hospital who need those life-saving units,” Vitalant Communications Manager Tori Robbins said.
On average, the blood donation process takes about an hour, which includes a 15-minute observation period.
“So the biggest thing that I always say is, if you think you can’t donate blood, or even if you’ve been told you can’t donate blood in the past, please check it again. So many things change on a regular basis, and then you threw a pandemic in there and many, many things changed in that time,” Robbins said.
If you’d like to donate, you can find the nearest location to you and schedule a donation here.