South Texas patients need donors to make up dramatic shortfall in donations during holidays. Metro Health asks individuals to donate.
Rising demand for blood transfusions and concerns about fewer donations are leading to a potential healthcare crisis in South Texas during the upcoming holiday season.
As a result, South Texas Blood & Tissue has declared a blood emergency. Not enough blood may be on hand for trauma cases and patients who need emergency surgeries, and the day-to-day needs of cancer patients, new mothers and those undergoing surgery are likely to be affected.
“Because of the dire shortage of the city’s current blood supply, Metro Health is asking the community to donate blood today to South Texas Blood & Tissue to help replenish supply that can help with patients’ medical needs,” said Metro Health Director Claude A. Jacob.
According to South Texas Blood & Tissue, a subsidiary of nonprofit BioBridge Global, projections for Dec. 20-Jan. 15 show an average daily gap of more than 120 donations from what is anticipated to be needed by patients.
Orders for blood from the region continue to be up about 10% from last year, with some hospitals seeing even sharper increases. Blood centers across the nation are reporting similar high demand, said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President, Blood Operations at South Texas Blood & Tissue.
Even before the holidays begin, blood donor turnout has declined, leaving the blood inventory at less than one day’s supply, far below the ideal of 5-7 days. South Texas Blood & Tissue has alerted hospitals that the blood supply is expected to be further strained unless more donors come forward to give during the holidays.
“The holidays are always a difficult time for the blood supply as many people go on vacation and schools and universities go out for winter break,” said Mendoza. “But this year, without the normal bump in donations in October and November, blood is in especially short supply. It only takes 30-45 minutes to donate blood and possibly save up to three lives.”
While total blood donations are up by more than 2% from a year ago, the increase has not been enough to keep up with the growing demand for blood.
In previous years, blood centers across the country could help each other maintain their supplies, but the current shortages stretch from coast to coast.
“Please donate blood today and encourage your friends and family to do so,” Mendoza said. “Make it a family tradition during the holidays.”
South Texas Blood & Tissue is asking donors to visit one of its seven donation locations or find a mobile blood drive by visiting SouthTexasBlood.org. Donors can call 210-731-5590 for information or to make an appointment. Appointments are available across all the region’s blood donor rooms, and the only day the donor rooms will be closed is on Christmas Day. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are encouraged.
Donors also can schedule a blood donation at University Hospital by calling 210-358-2812 or visiting DonateBloodToday.com.