Additional 300 donors a day needed at South Texas Blood & Tissue to help
Patients across the country including South Texas are facing an emergency blood and platelet shortage, as donations have not kept pace with demand this holiday season.
Recently, the number of donors making their way into the area’s nine donor rooms and community blood drives are only able to meet about half of the current patient needs in the region.
As a result, the local supply of blood and platelets is now at critical levels, with a direct impact on patients with traumatic injuries, or undergoing surgeries, transfusions between cancer treatment, and to support healing from other diseases. As a result of our rapidly growing community, local hospitals are seeing more patients than ever and more patients are needing blood. This means that we need help from our community to donate blood regularly.
“With the lower-than-needed blood donor turnout, we are unable to fill all of the orders we are receiving from hospitals, which puts the community at risk of not having blood for treatment when it is needed,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Medical Director of the South Texas Blood & Tissue, a subsidiary of San Antonio nonprofit, BioBridge Global.
A 2022 report from America’s Blood Centers shows that just 3% of the U.S. population donates blood every year, however, most Americans will either know someone who needs blood or will receive a transfusion themselves. An aging population also increases the need for transfusions, which is one of the most common procedures performed by hospitals for patients 65 and older.
“The holidays are a time when we often see fewer donors, but unfortunately, this really impacts patients who need the support of blood to help them stay strong to fight disease, like cancer, or for those who experience a life-threatening accident. It’s a great time to give blood, as this is a gift someone will appreciate. There are not that many gifts you can give in less than an hour, that will save a life.,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer for the center.
A shortage of donors for blood or platelets can result in patients like William – who is battling cancer for the second time – having to wait for blood transfusions.
For more than 20 years, William taught middle school and coached high school cheerleading, but the start of the 2022 school year was the first time he could not be with his students or his cheer team. Instead, he was in the hospital battling stage 4 lymphoma. William’s chemo was delayed and he needs blood and platelet transfusions to continue treatment.
“It becomes frustrating to hear that over and over, but there’s a shortage and I have to be patient,” he said. “The shortage of blood and platelets has meant not getting my blood levels to where they need to be and delays my next chemo treatment.”
One of the largest needs right now is for type O blood, which is often used in emergency situations. As holiday travel ensues, road accidents and the need for blood in trauma situations also rises. Forty-seven percent of Americans will travel for Christmas this year, with most of them driving, according to data from PwC.
Throughout the month of December, blood donors will receive at least 200 Rewards Store points, valued at $20, which can be redeemed for eGift cards and a “Don’t be a Grinch, Donate Blood” T-shirt.
Blood and platelet donations can be made at any of the nine donor rooms. Walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment or find a donor room, call 210-731-5590 or visit SouthTexasBlood.org.