Michigan blood donation supply is critically low

Some centers are down more than 40% in donations from schools and businesses, or nearly 20,000 units of blood.
Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 6:49 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Blood donations across Michigan have dropped significantly over the last year. Some donation centers have less than a day’s supply.

“Blood collection has been a real challenge since the beginning of the pandemic last March,” American Red Cross of Michigan Regional Communications Manager Todd Kulman said.

And while life is returning to normal in many ways, it’s not at donation centers.

“Just last week the American Red Cross saw the lowest blood donor turnout since the pandemic began more than a year ago,” Kulman said. “We are seeing about 1,000 blood drives canceled each week.”

COVID-19 has created serious challenges for blood centers. Mobile collection drives are key for getting donations, where groups like both the Red Cross and Versiti travel across the state. This year, it hasn’t been easy to do so.

“20 to 30 percent of our donations are coming right from high schools and universities,” Versiti VP of Transfusion Medicine and Senior Medical Director Dr. Dan Waxman said. “So for a year now, we have not had as much access to those organizations to collect donors.”

Versiti Blood Center of Michigan is down more than 40% in donations from schools and businesses, or nearly 20,000 units of blood. Normally, it collects more than 114,000 units of blood per year to supply to 80 hospitals in the state.

“There’s been some times where we’ve been so critically low that the physicians that I work with, we’ve had to allocate blood on an order by order basis and say okay how much do you need at the hospital, can you get by, and so we just don’t want to get this low,” Dr. Waxman said. “We want to be able to meet the daily needs.”

Blood centers are looking for all types, especially Group O, including O-positive and O-negative.

The American Red cross is not having a current shortage, but in both centers the number of donors has dropped -- and there’s a chance it could get worse -- for all centers across the state.

“It could potentially signal a more serious challenge to come as far as the blood supply because the need for blood is constant,” Kulman said. “Every two seconds someone needs a blood transfusion in the U.S. and we need to keep our supply well stocked.”

One donation of blood can help save up to three lives. All Red Cross and Versiti locations are adhering to FDA and CDC cleaning protocols, practicing social distancing and requiring that you wear a mask.

Here’s how you can donate and make an appointment:

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