As Lockdowns Ease, Hospitals and Collection Centers Face Blood Supply Shortages

With lockdown procedures easing nationwide and hospitals resuming elective surgeries, the rate of blood donations has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. Collection drives were canceled in response to stay-at-home orders, and supplies have been affected by the shortage of donations.

The American Red Cross, which supplies around 40% of the nation’s blood needs and usually has enough supplies to last 5 days, now has less than 2 days’ worth of blood, according to James “Chris” Hrouda, president of biomedical services for the organization. In response to the shortage, the group has started rationing blood sent to hospitals nationwide, only filling orders up to 75% of requested amounts of blood.

“It puts hospitals and doctors in the precarious position of deciding who gets blood,” Mr. Hrouda said.

Experts warn that the upcoming hurricane season could add to the current strain on blood supplies by increasing blood demands and making collection more difficult. Federal emergency managers encourage blood donations during and after disasters to help survivors, and the Red Cross has been taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its donation sites, such as requiring the use of masks, taking the temperature of donors.

Source: The New York Times, June 3, 2020.