Western NY Red Cross issue ’emergency need’ for blood donations, local hospitals share status

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Western New York division of the American Red Cross has issued an emergency need for donated blood needed for lifesaving procedures and treatments. 

Over the Summer, the Red Cross has distributed 12% more blood products to hospitals compared to this point last year. At this rate, they need to collect more than 1,000 donations each day to meet hospital demand.  

As elective surgeries return in higher numbers to area hospitals, patients with those diseases and serious injuries rely on donated blood for immediate treatment.  

“We strive to keep a five-day supply of blood products on hand but given the shortage, we are experiencing a less than day supply of type O blood doctors in emergencies are reaching for,” Meg Rossman of the Red Cross said.  

It is difficult for blood to be stockpiled for more than a week. One patient can often need more than the amount of blood donated from a single person.  

“If someone comes in for a gunshot wound or a severe auto accident or farming accident, they may need hundreds of units of red cells,” URMC Dr. Neil Blumberg said. “It’s not typical but more typical would be 5,10 or 15 donations for that one patient.”  

Many hospitals across the nation are being forced to put off certain surgeries in this shortage. Though doctors at URMC have enough cushion in their donated blood supply, they do not have room for error if serious accidents or shootings pick back up.  

“At the bedside, none of our surgeons or intensive care doctors have had to decide not to transfuse somebody because we didn’t have a red cell available for them,” Dr. Blumberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s very nervous and concern.”  

As blood drives become more common throughout the year, Red Cross emphasizes it takes all necessary precautions protecting patients from COVID-19 outbreaks at their sites. People can still donate right after receiving their vaccine.  

Donations of rare blood types are encouraged even more in times like these because if those who get sick are compatible it has more of a chance of saving them over various kinds.  

For those who donate between August 1-15, the Red Cross will automatically enter you for a chance to win a VIP trip to the sold-out Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival plus a free four-month subscription to Apple Music.

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