USA Health is feeling the effects of the national blood shortage.
The supply for blood products, especially platelets, is critically low, according to the American Red Cross. Donors of all blood types are urgently needed.
Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries. Platelets must be used within five days, and new donors are needed every day. The Red Cross estimates they must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week during the next month for the blood supply to reach sufficient levels and meet hospital and patient needs.
USA Health is feeling the effects of the national shortage.
Mohammad Barouqa, M.D., director of the blood bank, said requests for platelets at USA Health University Hospital have increased four times over the last week – an unprecedented increase in requests.
“We are working with all of our blood suppliers to keep our inventory in good shape, so we can provide all of our services,” Barouqa said. “However, they are having difficulty finding donors, and their supply might fluctuate.”
Barouqa, who also is an assistant professor of pathology at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama, urges everyone who can to consider donating blood and platelets. “Donating blood on a regular basis is an act of solidarity and saves lives,” he said.
There are several types of donations:
- Red cell donation: In this type of donation, you give a concentrated dose of red cells. It uses an automated process that separates your red blood cells from the other blood components, and then safely and comfortably returns your plasma and platelets to you. This donation will help trauma patients, those with anemia, sickle cell disease, newborns and anyone who needs an emergency transfusion. The process takes up to one and a half hours.
- Platelet donation: You give a concentrated dose of platelets. A machine collects your platelets along with some plasma, returning your red cells and most of the plasma back to you. A single donation of platelets can yield several transfusable units, whereas it takes about five whole blood donations to make up a single transfusable unit of platelets. This kind of unit is used for trauma patients, in surgeries, for patients with cancer or those facing severe and life-threatening illness that need to have bleeding stopped. This takes 1 to 2 hours depending on the number of units collected.
- Plasma donation: Plasma is collected through an automated process that separates it from other blood components, then safely returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. Plasma is needed for trauma and bleeding patients, especially AB plasma patients who are considered universal plasma donors, and, of course, all other types of plasma (A, B and O) are also important. This takes from 1 to 2 hours.
- Whole blood donation: A flexible type of donation, it can be transfused in its original form especially for trauma patients or used to help multiple people when separated into its specific components of red cells, plasma, and platelets. This process usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.