Blood shortage update: 1,400 more donations needed by Friday

January 9, 2020

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center needs 1,400 more donations by Friday to help restock empty shelves at area hospitals.

Responding to appeals, South Texans made 588 donations on Wednesday, but the momentum needs to continue. On Tuesday, the blood center set a goal of 2,160 donations by Friday to meet the needs of South Texas patients.

stbtc_emptyshelf_photo

“We are hearing from hospitals that unless we can refill their inventories as soon as possible, they will need to ­begin canceling elective surgeries,” said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

The shortages also put the region’s patients at risk – a single major incident has the potential to deplete a hospital’s supply of blood in just a few hours.

“Several local hospitals had trauma cases recently that used dozens of units of blood, wiping out inventories,” Waltman said.

Orders from hospitals jumped to more than 1,300 units of blood and platelets on Tuesday, more than twice the normal number. There were less than 500 units on the shelf to fill those orders.

Blood centers across the nation are reporting similar shortages, which are related to the holidays and in some regions the weather.

Nationally, more than 60% of the population is eligible to give blood, but every year, just 5% of those who are eligible actually make a donation.

“Unfortunately, the need for lifesaving medical treatments doesn’t go away during the holidays,” Waltman said. “People undergoing treatment for cancer and other diseases need blood. So do new moms and their babies, and people who have been in accidents.”

Demand is especially high for type O blood. O-negative is critical because it can be used for any patient in an emergency. O-positive is the type most common in South Texas, and demand for O-positive blood increased by 17% in 2019.

Donors can schedule an appointment at SouthTexasBlood.org/WeNeedYou. But walk-in donations are always welcome, and the center also extended hours at donor rooms. Donors can call 210-731-5590 with any questions about eligibility or where to donate.

Anyone wishing to donate blood must present identification. Donors age 16 must have a signed parental consent form and weigh at least 120 pounds. Anyone over the age of 17 may donate and must be in general good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. All donors are asked to eat well and adequately hydrate before and after donation. Refreshments and snacks are provided, and all donor receive a wellness check. Learn about blood donation at SouthTexasBlood.org.