Flu season threatens to impact the already dwindling blood supply nationwide

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The American Red Cross is once again asking people to roll up their sleeves and donate blood as the national blood shortage is continuing to impact hospitals in Georgia and across the US.

“The American Red Cross and the whole country are experiencing a severe blood shortage,” says Dr. Baia Lasky, the medical director for the American Red Cross of Georgia.

COVID-19 has led to a national blood shortage.

“We’re constantly having to shift how we collect blood, and the pandemic just really introduced a whole new level of having to shift how we operate,” Dr. Lasky said.

Blood supply issues are not new, but the Red Cross recently reported that it’s facing the lowest blood supply in more than a decade.

A number of factors can impact the availability of blood, among them is flu season.

“With flu season that’s always a challenge for us to continue collecting blood,” says Dr. Lasky.

During flu season, there tends to be a decrease in blood donations. Amid the ongoing pandemic, medical professionals say we can’t afford that this year.

“That has been compounded by COVID and the restrictions,” Dr. Lasky said.

According to the Red Cross, COVID precautions have limited options for hosting a blood drive in many of the usual settings like college campuses or during events.

“This is something that affects such a wide variety of patients,” says Dr. Lasky.

Now, medical professionals in Georgia and across the US must make up for lost blood.

“We are in a position where nationwide, we will need to collect about 10,000 units above what we usually collect to maintain the appropriate inventory,” Dr. Lasky says.

Hospitals are in need of blood.

“There are days when we have less than a days supply, less than half a days supply of certain blood types,” says Dr. Lasky.

But people can help combat this issue by giving blood at a donation site near you.

“We really depend on the generosity of donors,” Dr. Lasky said.

Visit redcross.org for more information on how to donate.

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