Blood donations desperately needed as Michigan hospitals’ supply shrinks

Blood donations desperately needed as Michigan hospitals’ supply shrinks
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:28 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:21 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Every two seconds, someone on the United States needs blood, but blood is hard to come by.

The need for blood is so high that the American Red Cross has declared its first-ever “blood crisis.”

More: Red Cross declares ‘first-ever blood crisis’ in US

According to the American Red Cross, the United States is facing its worst blood shortage since its founding in 1881. Hospitals across Michigan are feeling the impact.

“We are not getting the supplies of blood from our blood supplier -- the American Red Cross -- that were accustomed to getting,” said Jon Baker, director of laboratories at Sparrow Health System.

Blood drive cancellations have increased significantly due to the COVID pandemic. Blood drive are at an all-time-low with Michigan seeing a 10% decline in donors since the start of the pandemic, causing the supply of blood to get dangerously low.

The Red Cross said a huge portion of that is due to college and school closures, where blood drives are often held.

“Across Michigan right now, we actually have had about maybe 40% of our appointments not filled,” said Alicia Dorr, with Michigan Red Cross. “I think in Lansing it’s even a little bit higher than that.”

That shortage is forcing doctors to make difficult decision about who receives blood and who will have to wait for more to become available.

“The shortage causes hospitals and even doctors to have to make difficult decisions,” Door said. “We just don’t even ever want that dire situation to occur. Some blood transfusions can wait but others can’t.”

Sparrow Hospital of Lansing said they’ve had to scale back blood use dramatically to save enough blood. In some cases, the hospital said it has only had half the blood needed in stock.

“Our O positive inventory was about 50 some percent of what we would ordinarily like to have on hand,” Baker said. “Our O negative inventory looked a little bit better than that.”

More: Blood supply stalls at dangerously low levels across US

Now the American Red Cross is asking eligible people to donate blood as soon as possible, urging those with Type O blood to step forward.

“This is especially true for those universal donors and that’s type O, because they can help especially with chronic diseases,” Door said. “But if you’re in a situation where it’s an emergency and and it’s happening right now, the universal donor is the easiest one because they’re able to use it on anyone.”

The Red Cross said just an hour of a person’s time can help save up to three lives.

“You could really be helping your neighbor, a friend or of course a stranger,” Door said. “It’s a truly important act of kindness.”

The Red Cross is asking donors of all blood types to make appointments to donate. It’s partnering with the NFL and people donating blood will automatically be entered for a chance to win tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. More information can be found on the America Red Cross’ official website here.

Related: Michiganders tell News 10 why donating blood is important to them

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