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Critical Blood Supply Shortage in the U.S.

Critical Blood Supply Shortage in the U.S.

We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many longstanding challenges facing the health care field. One of the most alarming developments is it effecting our nation’s blood supply. With World Blood Donor Day coming up on June 14, it is a good time to raise awareness about the critical need for blood donations.

Dr. Schulyer Williams, Touro Internal Medicine Physician is here to discuss.

What is causing the national blood shortage?

There has been a significant drop in donations during the pandemic

  • In some areas, high rates of COVID-19 have reduced the number of people walking through the door to donate blood.
  • The pandemic has also greatly impacted the traditional blood drives of many large organizations, such as businesses, houses of worship, and schools and colleges where many blood drives take place.
  • Staffing limitations- just like everywhere else there are staffing limitations that have caused the cancelation of planned blood drives.

The need for blood

This deficit is severe enough to force some hospitals to delay surgeries and take other conservation measures to preserve sufficient supply on hand to be able to care for patients who need it most. Doctors are forced to make difficult choices about who is able to receive blood transfusions.

Particularly vulnerable are cancer patients, who often require blood transfusions during their treatment. People with cancer need more blood transfusions that those with any other disease.

Also, the need for blood for a trauma patient or a patient undergoing surgery is critical.

So, doctors are having to make these difficult choices such as do we give it to a trauma victim who’s come in with a car crash? Or do we give it to the cancer patient who needs it to continue functioning? These are horrible difficult choices to make.

What type of blood is needed?

There are 8 different blood types, and while all blood types are needed, Type O (Type O-positive, Type O-negative) is considered the universal donor because the blood can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type.

Donating blood/How can we do our part?

  • Public awareness about the issue
  • Strongly urge everyone who is able to do so, to consider giving blood.
  • Donating blood is safe and easy to do. It makes a critical difference in the ability of healthcare providers to meet the many urgent needs of our patients and communities
  • The Blood Center’s website tells you where you can give blood in Louisiana

If the nation’s blood supply doesn’t stabilize soon, lifesaving blood may not be available for some patients when it’s needed so please consider donating blood.

Visit to find out how you can donate.