With demand for blood products up 10% nationwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic, blood centers are down to a one-day supply in some U.S. cities.
Prior to COVID-19-related shutdowns, schools accounted for 25% of collected blood. “The donors are not in the traditional locations anymore. We lost large corporations, religious organizations, movie theater drives, [and] festivals,” said Susan Forbes, senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations at Florida-based OneBlood, the largest blood center in the southeastern U.S.
Because of the shortage, some hospitals have had to postpone scheduled surgical procedures, or have come dangerously close to needing to do so. “There’s this huge backlog of operations that really needed to get done,” said Paresh Shah, MD, surgeon-in-chief at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “We were down to such a low inventory of blood that if we had one major transfusion event, we would have been depleted completely.”