Less than a one-day type O blood supply available for patients across South Texas
Following several days in which multiple trauma and surgery patients required substantial amounts of type O blood, area hospitals are facing a severe shortage of type O blood supplies. There is an urgent need for type O blood donations. Donors are encouraged to give as soon as possible. As of Wednesday night, there is less than a one-day supply of type O blood.
Type O- is the universal donor, which means it can be given to people with any blood type. Type O+ is one of the most common blood types. For these reasons, both blood types are the highest in demand by hospitals, causing them to deplete quickly.
“Every blood center is struggling to maintain a stable blood supply,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer, South Texas Blood & Tissue. “Every blood transfusion that is given to a patient in need comes from a volunteer donor, and we are calling on our community to come together.”
In recent days, there has been an increase in blood transfusions needed for surgeries, trauma and hemorrhaging during childbirth. This puts a strain on the blood inventory for patients with blood disorders and cancers.
An adequate blood supply is essential for hospitals to have the ability to care for patients and treat various illnesses and emergencies.
At the age of 3, Amy has already been through more than most people–chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and weeks in the hospital.
“Having a child with cancer is as frightening as you might imagine it to be. This uncertainty is made more complex when your child has a rare blood type, O-.” said Ryan Morkovsky, Amy’s father. “I have seen the cold storage; it is smaller than I thought. I have seen the blood supply of which there was a mere 9 units of type O- blood in total. It is exactly as I had feared it to be.”
There are many ways that cancer affects blood–it can cause internal bleeding and low blood counts. Chemotherapy can also damage bone marrow that produces blood cells. Blood and platelet transfusions are essential for many cancer patients fighting the disease.
Ryan has become a dedicated blood donor–paying it forward for the donations that have saved his daughter’s life.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has been facing a critical blood shortage. But now, doctors say the crisis has reached a new turning point and is forcing some to triage medical care.
“We are working closely with our hospitals to prepare for scheduled procedures that are likely to require transfusion support,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director, South Texas Blood & Tissue. “While some medical care can be postponed, others can’t such as trauma victims and care for patients with unexpected hemorrhage during childbirth.”
Donors can make an appointment with South Texas Blood & Tissue by calling 210-731-5590 or visiting SouthTexasBlood.org. Same-day appointments and walk-ins are available at the center’s eight donor rooms, as well as at community blood drives. Donors at least 17 years old (16 with parental consent) and in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.