Vital call for blood donors as blood shortage persists post-pandemic closures

The Rhode Island Blood Center issues an urgent call for blood and platelet donations as hospitals throughout the area resume patient care at full capacity.

The center says that the need for blood has rebounded to levels prior to the pandemic, but donor participation has not.

Around 50 percent of the region’s blood supply comes from mobile blood drives hosted by various organizations. Many mobile blood drives were canceled going forward from March as a result of the pandemic.

Due to hospitals temporarily suspending elective surgeries, blood utilization sharply declined. The RIBC was able to maintain its blood supply through donations at its six donor centers during this time.

When June approached and increased safety measures were enforced, RIBC was able to safely hold mobile blood drives again. The blood center says that with most large organization employee’s still working from home, those businesses that typically host blood drives during summer months, have not yet reopened.

Data shows that in July of 2019 RIBC ran 117 blood drives collecting 3,018 donations. This July, the center is only able to run 55 blood drives at organizations and in the community collecting an estimated 1,600 donations.

According to the blood center, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be on hand all the time to preserve a safe blood supply.  Reserves have been below the minimum with only a 2-3 day supply of critical blood types, due to fewer donors making appointments.

To maintain a safe blood supply, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be on hand at all times. In recent weeks, due to fewer donors booking appointments, reserves are below that minimum with only a 2-3 day supply of critical blood types.

“The blood supply is a critical part of our healthcare system. It is imperative for individuals to come in and donate blood so that it’s available to everyone in need,” said Beau Tompkins, Senior Executive Director of RIBC.

Donating blood is safe, and only takes one hour. Donor centers and mobile blood drives have many safety measures in place to keep both donors and staff safe.

Donors can schedule an appointment online or by calling 401-453-8383. Masks are required.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island