South Texas Blood & Tissue’s Executive Director of Blood Operations, Audra Taylor, presented on the impact of the Heroes in Arms program to supply emergency vehicles and trauma centers with whole blood units in an online seminar during Blood Advocacy Week.
“Access to blood when a patient needs it matters, but currently there are some limitations that mean patients don’t have access when it matters most.,” Taylor said. “Before a patient gets to the hospital, at the scene of an accident or in an ambulance, blood can mean the difference between life and death, healthy recovery or long-term disabilities.”
The webinar explained the impact access to blood transfusions in a pre-hospital and hospice settings can have on trauma patients. America’s Blood Centers (ABC) is hosting the webinar series all week as part of its inaugural Blood Advocacy Week.
“For patients at the end of life who rely on palliative transfusions, it means they must decide between the holistic care of hospice and the quality of life provided by those transfusions,” Taylor said.
ABC is advocating for expanded access to blood products in pre-hospital settings and reimbursement for palliative blood transfusions outside of the hospice benefit by asking Congress to establish a demonstration project through The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
“Hospice can give blood transfusions, but nearly universally don’t because of insufficient Medicare reimbursement,” Diane Calmus, Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs at America’s Blood Centers, said.
This is just one way ABC is advocating for action to change policies on blood donation and transfusion in the U.S. during Blood Advocacy Week. Other days of the week focus on analyzing blood supply trends, promoting awareness of new donation eligibility criteria, and increasing diversity among blood donors.
South Texas Blood & Tissue is serving as an advocacy partner during the week, along with other large blood centers across the country. America’s Blood Centers is a national organization that unites America’s independent, community-based blood centers.
The community can get involved during the week and throughout the year by spreading the word about creating a safer and more available blood supply through social media or writing to their Congress members about the issues highlighted by ABC. The organization has an easy-to-use template on their website to write to your Congress member.
“Trauma care has changed a lot, but we still need to see whole blood spread across the country. It’s the true lifesaving treatment,” Eric Bank, Assistant Chair of EMS at Harris County Emergency Services No. 48, said.