Blood supply dangerously low, hospitals 'in a crisis'

Hospitals are asking for the community's help in donating blood, with health leaders calling the supply dangerously low.

Hospital systems across the state have experienced a blood supply shortage throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but over the last couple of weeks, the supply of all blood types is dangerously low.

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"Less people donating, issues on collecting and processing and delivering – just the supply chain issues people are having for everything are also impacting our blood supply," said Ann O'Rourke, UW Health. 

Health officials at Ascension believe the omicron variant is partially to blame. With hospitals at full capacity, there's an ongoing need for day-to-day blood.

"I think more people are infected with it and not going to blood donation sites, and two, people are exercising social distancing and not going to give blood where they would six months ago," said Richard Shimp, Ascension.

Hospital systems are adapting to the shortage by rescheduling surgeries, limiting blood draws and monitoring the use of blood.

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"What can we use in place of blood, in some situations, or having different thresholds to transfusing patients with blood," said Shimp.

Health officials are calling it a crisis, asking for the community's help. While hospitals are not quite at the point of not having enough blood, doctors are doing everything they can to prevent that.

"Anything we can do to get our supplies back up to normal, where we can get ourselves out of that situation is what we’re hoping for," said O'Rourke.

Health officials say even if you've had COVID-19, you can still donate blood. The Red Cross or Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, two great places to find the nearest donation center to you.


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