Nationwide blood shortage has Kansas City area hospitals closely monitoring supply

Health

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City-area hospitals are becoming increasingly concerned about a nationwide blood shortage affecting the region.

Patsy Shipley, senior director for donor recruitment and collections at the Community Blood Center, said 25,000 people who donated before the pandemic haven’t since. The American Red Cross is also in dangerously short supply, and it really couldn’t be happening at a worse time.

Paul Moe gave blood Wednesday at a blood drive held at Christ Church Anglican in Overland Park.

“I just heard there’s a critical shortage, but I didn’t hear about the why,” he said.

Donations are believed to be down since giving blood isn’t at the front of people’s minds as they return to a life of summer entertainment. Blood banks aim for a seven-day supply for the region.

“Less than half a day’s inventory on the shelves in recent weeks — that causes concern for us,” said Randee Krumwiede, American Red Cross executive director.

And it’s also a big concern for hospitals, which are using more blood than ever with people rescheduling elective surgeries they put off during the pandemic. Plus, all that summer fun and travel leads to more trauma and emergency treatment.

“On a day-to-day basis, we are checking our inventories, making sure we have the bare minimum to support the emergencies that might come in, and we are ready to postpone cases if we need to do that. We haven’t had to so far, but it’s pretty hairy right now,” said Dr. Joseph Restivo, medical director for transfusion services at HCA Hospitals.

During the pandemic, there were fewer blood drives at community locations. Now the American Red Cross and Community Blood Center are running multiple events each day trying to meet the urgent need.

What they still need is donors, especially people with universal blood Type O negative and positive.

“It’s easy to put off. It’s easy to think you’ll do it in a week or two. But unless you actually sit down and fill out the application, it doesn’t happen,” Moe said.

“Every person who comes into donate blood, they are saving three lives. To walk in and see full blood drives and all the people doing the selfless act, it doesn’t take long, and it can have a colossal impact on a person’s life,” said Ben Halstead Smyth, Red Cross donor recruitment account manager.

To help encourage donations, the American Red Cross is offering $5 Amazon gift cards through the end of June. You can find more information about how and where to donate with the Red Cross here. Find more information about donating with the Community Blood Center here.

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