MURRAY – According to the American Red Cross, the need for blood and platelet donations are higher than ever, and said that there is an emergency shortage.
Sherri McKinney, the American Red Cross Tennessee Region regional director of communications, said that the shortage began in May and has only gotten worse. A press release sent out by ARC stated that they need to collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month to meet hospital and patient needs.
“(There) is such a critical need and an emergency need right now,” McKinney said. “It doesn’t matter what type of blood you have. If you have O+ or O- blood, we definitely need those people to donate. The 0- folks can give to anybody and 0+ can give to just about anybody.”
She also said that, along with different blood types, people with different ethnicities also need to donate. For example, people of color are in dire need to donate because only people with the sickle cell trait can receive donations from someone who carries that trait. McKinney said that even before COVID, the number of people who donated with sickle cell was always low.
McKinney speculates that the need for blood was not high when COVID hit because there was a sense of desperation and people wanting to help, along with the need for COVID positive antibodies. She said that they no longer need those antibodies and with the world opening back up and people traveling, donating is not on their mind.
Even though Murray-Calloway County Hospital has its own blood center, McKkinney said it is still not enough.
“The need is so critical, we can’t rely on our hospitals just to supply their own blood, it’s not going to happen,” McKinney said. “Eighty percent of the blood that we collect is coming from drives. Community blood drives, where people step up and say, ‘how can we help?’ We have also seen that decline. When the colleges and the high school closed, those were our biggest collection sites. When they closed it really hurt blood collections in the United States because there were nowhere to have (drives).”
McKinney said that any organization within a community can contact their regional Red Cross Center or state Red Cross Center and ask to put on a drive.
An example that KcKinney gave to put into perspective how critical the situation is, is that during the shooting that took place at a Kroger in Memphis, Tennessee, there was just enough blood for the victims. She also said that surgeries are being moved because there is not enough blood and, if there happens to be a disaster or multiple traumas in a day that requires blood, there is a very real possibility that there will not be enough.
McKinney said that people who are vaccinated can still donate, but they will have to know what kind of vaccination they received.
“When you hear the American Red Cross say there is a shortage, it is a concern.”