Additional 200 donors a day needed at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center to meet patient needs
Patients in areas served by South Texas Blood & Tissue Center are facing an emergency blood and platelet shortage, as donations have not kept pace with demand this fall.
Blood donations are averaging around 400 units per day at the blood center’s seven donor rooms, as well as at community blood drives. The center needs 600 donations per day to meet patient needs around the South Texas area.
As a result, the local supply is now at critical levels, with direct impact on patients needing surgeries.
“With the lower than expected blood donor turnout, we are unable to fill all of the orders we are receiving from hospitals,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of San Antonio nonprofit BioBridge Global. “We are working with area hospitals to evaluate virtually every order for blood.”
Orders for blood by hospitals have remained strong and continue to outpace donations. Surgeries postponed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 are now being rescheduled; however, they are now at risk of being postponed again.
“The platelet shortage in our area could lead to delayed or canceled surgeries,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President of Blood Operations for the center. “We are feeling the impact of the low donor show rate caused by the severe rain and flooding last week.”
One of the largest needs right now is for platelets, which are the blood component that helps form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. Ashley is one of countless patients who benefited from platelet donations.
A few weeks after she gave birth to her first child, she began losing blood at home. Her husband called 911, and paramedics rushed her to the hospital. After losing so much blood, Ashley remembers one of the biggest problems at the hospital was finding enough blood for her.
She spent 16 days in the ICU and needed 19 units of blood, four units of platelets and four units of plasma, along with emergency surgery to remove her uterus, to save her life.
“In those moments after receiving blood, you feel like you have life in you again. You have that energy again to keep fighting for your life,” she says.
She is home now and feels blessed to be alive.
“I am forever grateful for the donors,” Ashley says. “I just wish I knew each person that donated their blood to be able to call and say thank you for saving my life. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the donors.”
Blood and platelet donations can be made at any of the seven donor rooms. Walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment or find a donor room, call 210-731-5590 or visit SouthTexasBlood.org.
Those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are able to donate blood, platelets or plasma after receiving it. In most cases, there is no wait time for those who received a COVID-19 vaccine if donors are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of donation.