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Blood donations are critically needed as the nation faces worst shortage in years

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:52 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The nation is facing one of the worst blood supply shortages in more than a decade.

The American Red Cross made a stunning announcement this week when the nonprofit declared its “first-ever blood crisis.”

“Over the past 30 years, we’ve never seen it this dire,” said Dr. Aimee Goodier from Ochsner Medical Center.

LifeShare Blood Center in Baton Rouge reported that due to low inventory, and high demand for blood products, the blood bank is currently rationing blood to hospitals to fulfill the needs of the most critical patients.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 12 LifeShare had only six units of O negative blood in Baton Rouge. O negative is the universal blood type and is often given to mothers and infants.

Dr. Goodier said the critical need for more blood has forced hospitals and health care providers to alter treatments in some cases.

“When you come into the hospital you assume that you’re going to get the care that you need, but if we do not have the blood supply to give you, and you are in dire need of blood, and we can only supply a limited amount, that might be in some situations a ‘life or death’ situation,” said Goodier.

Many factors are causing the shortage. Such as canceled blood drives, staffing issues, an active flu season. Doctors told us these were all issues before the pandemic, but COVID accelerated the problem.

Our Lady of the Lake told WAFB as of Wednesday, they only have a day’s supply of blood.

“Let’s think of it as a medicine that we just don’t have. How are we going to treat? So, we’re having to think of alternate ways to treat patients,” said Dr. Mark Laperouse from Our Lady of the Lake.

Baton Rouge native Joseph Jenkins believes his life was saved thanks to a few local blood donors.

In September 2021, Jenkins collapsed at work and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors informed him his arteries were 90% blocked, and surgery was needed.

“They went on to do a triple bypass, and of course, that’s when that situation happened,” said Jenkins.

After the surgery, Jenkins developed an ulcer and almost died.

“They took seven hours to get me back revived because I was about to check out,” said Jenkins.

Doctors told Jenkins they had to use more than 10 units of blood to save his life. Jenkins feels he wouldn’t be alive to tell his story if it wasn’t for the blood donors in Baton Rouge.

“I probably wouldn’t be here to talk about it,” said Jenkins.

That’s why Jenkins, and every health care provider in the country, is urging people to not wait, and donate.

“Before the blood hits the shelves, it’s already spoken for,” said Jason Kilpatrick from LifeShare Blood Center. “Let’s do what we need to do, lets help people, give blood, and save lives.”

“Everybody wants to run away from the needle, but sometimes that very same needle will bring life,” said Jenkins.

You can call LifeShare or your local hospital to set up an appointment to donate blood.

Donation appointments and a list of mobile blood drives can be found at www.lifeshare.org.

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