Shortage of donated blood creates critical issues for CSRA hospitals

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We always hear about blood centers being low on blood, but this is another level. It’s starting to impact patient care now.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of donating blood by the traditional drives is simply not happening right now. It’s hurting some of our local hospitals and patient care.

“This is a blood shortage -- unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” Ashley Whitaker of the Shepeard Community Blood Center said. “We’re in a really tight spot right now.”

There are empty shelves in the blood room at the Shepeard Community Blood Center in Augusta. An 80 percent decrease in donors since the summer is causing their shelves to look barren.

“There is simply put, no blood. There’s no blood to be bought, there’s no blood to be imported,” Whitaker said.

O-positive is the second most common blood type and the one most hospitals are in need of, but this is all they have left.

Shepeard Community Blood Center is currently experiencing a historic blood shortage. The photo...
Shepeard Community Blood Center is currently experiencing a historic blood shortage. The photo above is all they have left.(Source:)

“Right now, we do not have the products to give them in the event there’s an emergency if there was a crisis. Those products are not on the shelves to help patients that need them,” Whitaker said.

It’s not as simple asking other centers for blood, because they are all critically low, too. This shortage is taking a toll on patient care at our local hospitals.

“The problem is we have to ask our surgeon colleagues and our clinician colleagues to really limit their use of blood if possible. And maybe even defer some elective surgeries,” Roni Bollag, a clinical pathologist at Augusta University, said.

Shepeard supplies blood to several local hospitals. They say if their shelves are empty, so are the hospitals.

“We just don’t want to get to the point where someone’s on the table and there’s just no blood to resuscitate them,” Bollag said.

Now they’re calling on you for help.

“There’s nowhere for us to go. We need the support of our community,” Whitaker said.

Another big issue with blood donations: the inability to treat burn victims. Burn patients required a lot of blood and with the holidays approaching, that can be worrisome as more people suffer from burn wounds during the holiday season.

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