National blood shortages are starting to impact some local healthcare providers

August 16, 2022:-According to Garret Roberts, Beaver County Times article, as blood donations persist in remaining low across the country, some local healthcare providers are starting to see the trend’s effects on their supplies.

With contributions in the western Pennsylvania region remaining low since the COVID-19 pandemic, associates of the Allegheny Health Network express that they are beginning to see the results that the more insufficient blood supply will have on their healthcare facilities. While this has not driven delays for any necessary operations at their hospitals, these lower supplies are causing the hospital to be careful with their usage.

“We have noticed the regional blood supply dip into only a short amount of the reserves many times this year, including a platelet shortage in the past few weeks,” displayed Dr. Allan Philp, chief medical officer for Allegheny General Hospital. “AHN has not had to ration derivatives or cancel cases, but we have had to be very rigid in using the best unrestricted science in deciding who truly needs a transfusion, and persist in focusing on blood preservation techniques in the emergency units, operating rooms and intensive care divisions.”

This blood depletion is reflective of a national trend of blood shortages around the United States, mainly driven by a reluctance of districts to donate blood since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. The American Red Cross displayed a “national blood crisis” earlier this year, which forced many doctors to decide who could acquire transfusions across the country.

In June, representatives for the Red Cross said that donations for blood and platelets across Pennsylvania were 12% lower than expected, making it one of the most significant shortfalls in recent years. In western Pennsylvania, there were 1,164 fewer blood donations than desired for the month.

While AHN hasn’t had to be as selective about surgeries and transfusions as some hospitals around the country, have, this limited supply does create concerns about emergencies that may occur in the future.

“The fear is that if a surgical case turns out to be more difficult than hoped and blood loss is higher, or there are multiple traumas at the same time in the same area, that the more limited supply could be exhausted and then patients might not receive the life-saving transfusions they would require,” Philp said. “Vitalant, our local supplier/manager for blood, has resources around the country and so can resupply from elsewhere, but like any shipping or transport process that takes time.”

To reduce these risks, doctors ask community members to consider donating blood whenever possible. Since fewer community blood drives occurred during the pandemic, people are encouraged to talk to their friends, families, and neighbors about considering donations.

Those looking to donate blood are motivated to research sites close to them online, which will benefit various healthcare systems across western Pennsylvania in need of blood supplies for necessary surgeries and other procedures.

When asked about potential blood deficiencies at UPMC and Heritage Valley facilities, both healthcare systems said they are not experiencing any deficiencies, and the national issue has not affected any procedures at their locations.

For those looking to help local hospitals replenish their blood supplies, an extra incentive is being offered by Red Cross to donate at one of their draw sites this month.

Throughout August, those who donate blood with the American Red Cross will receive a $10 e-gift card for a retail establishment of their choice. In addition to the instantaneous reward, all donors will automatically be entered for an opportunity to win “gas for a year,” valued at $6,000.