Blood shortage affecting local hospitals

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OVERLANK PARK, Kan. -- Medical professionals across the metro say they're concerned because donated blood supplies are at an all-time low.

RELATED: Bad weather causes national blood shortage

Doctors tell FOX 4 News a blood shortage happens every winter, especially during times of heavy snowfall. However, the winter of 2014 has kept donors away in record numbers, and in the long run, it's the patients who will pay the price if blood banks are unable to recover.

Surgeons told Nick Welter had no choice but to have surgery. Welter says it was either that, or risk losing his left arm. Two weeks ago, he became a host to flesh-eating bacteria after a small scratch became a big infection.

"They had to cut open my arm and remove the tissue that was damaged," Welter said. "(The infection) can spread throughout your whole body."

Doctor at Overland Park Regional Medical Center operated on Welter's arm twice, and used two units of blood during his recovery.

"Right now, we are low on everything," said Katie Aldis, a laboratory manager at the hospital.

Aldis also manages the blood bank at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. She says while no surgeries in her hospital have been delayed due to a blood shortage, the hospital's inventory depends on donations, and those are slow to show when winter weather is bad.

"Sometimes, when they come in and they've had a bad trauma, they'll get 50, 60, 70 units of blood," Aldis said.  "If no one's giving, we may have an issue."

Time is crucial, according to blood gatherers at Community Blood Center. Stann Tatate is a spokesperson for that collection facility, which sends donations to 70 regional hospitals. Tate says the blood center is two days behind in needed collections, which will be hard to make up.

"When we're not able to collect blood, it does trickle down to those patients," Tate said. "The blood is for them. That's why we're here, to help to community."

Tate also tells FOX 4 News the blood center is in dire need of blood types O-, A- and B-.

As for Welter, he was due to be released from the hospital earlier today, and says he'll become a blood donor as soon as he's back to good health.


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