Oregon and Washington face “devastating” blood shortage

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Blood service organizations like the American Red Cross and Bloodworks Northwest have called on the public for help as the region hits unprecedented levels of blood shortage.

“There is truly a prolonged and unprecedented national blood shortage,” said Vicki Finson, executive vice president of Bloodworks Northwest. “I would say it’s a crisis.”

Finson said the dire and pre-existing need for donors was exacerbated by recent inclement weather, staff shortages and the surge in the Omicron variant.

“Locally, as we speak right now, we have less than 50% of a day-long blood supply,” Finson explained.

File image (Photo by Buda Mendes / Getty Images)

Mack Fitz-Gerald, American Red Cross regional biomedical services support manager for the Pacific Northwest region, told KOIN 6 News that road closures caused by winter storms have forced the organization to shutting down blood drives and canceling blood transport to local hospitals in need.

“In the past two weeks alone, the Red Cross in our Pacific Northwest region has seen approximately 1,000 units lost,” said Fitz-Gerald. “It’s essential for us. 3,000 potential lives have been affected. And the only way to make it better is to try to get donors to come in now to help meet this need. “

He added, “To most people 1000 units doesn’t seem like a lot, but to us it’s detrimental. It is a huge loss. When we are already affected by COVID, and the normal deficit as it is, it is truly devastating. “

Although Bloodworks Northwest and the American Red Cross both claim to experience a continuing staff shortage, the organization prospectively told KOIN 6 News that it has enough staff to meet the increased demand and serve the needs of people. new donors.

“We have enough staff to collect a lot more blood than we currently are. But it does impact our ability to create pop-ups, ”said Finson. “I don’t think anyone has gone without a blood transfusion, but I know there have been delays.”

According to Fitz-Gerald, the cruel lack of donated blood is a matter of life and death.

FILE – This file photo from Monday, March 9, 2020 shows a blood donation in a transport case at the American Red Cross Donation Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Due to flu and coronavirus season, donations to the American Red Cross are on the decline across the country. (Jake Danna Stevens / The Times-Tribune via AP)

“You don’t want to use the word dead, but that’s exactly what it is,” he explained. “Blood product and platelet services go to hospitals for a reason, whether it’s for surgeries or other life-threatening issues.”

Fitz-Gerald continued, “So if we don’t understand [blood] there, and patients postpone surgeries or do not have procedures, which could negatively impact the lives of these people.

Bloodworks Northwest currently has all centers open. Blood donations can be scheduled online and are available by appointment only.

Finson said, sometimes dates go quickly – but that doesn’t mean the need has been met. She recommends making an appointment later, if possible.

Blood shortages in the country, resulting from increased cases of trauma, transplants and elective surgeries amid the pandemic, have put a strain on hospitals across the country. (Getty Images)

“You could try to make an appointment and not find something and think, ‘Oh my God, they don’t need me.’ Yes! “Exclaimed Finson.” We draw blood 364 days a year, patients are transfused 365 days. It’s ongoing, it’s forever and every day. So don’t be discouraged. Every time that you donate, you help.

The American Red Cross accepts blood donor appointments online, through its app, and by phone at: 1-800-398-7888.

“The fact that these shortages and that patients cannot save their lives due to the lack of blood is a huge problem right now. Fitz-Gerald said. “The main reason people don’t donate is because they weren’t asked. So, we just need to put the demand out there. We desperately need it, patients need it.


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