Blood shortage in U.S. forces some hospitals to postpone surgeries

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Blood centers in some U.S. cities are down to a one-day supply, forcing hospitals to postpone surgeries. The blood shortage is yet another fallout from the pandemic, experts say.

OneBlood, the Southeast’s largest blood center, is scrambling to manage the blood shortage crisis.

“It’s a 24/7 operation,” said OneBlood’s Susan Forbes. “The donors are not in the traditional locations anymore. We lost large corporations, religious organizations, movie theater drives, festivals that were taking place ended.”

Before COVID-19 shutdowns, schools accounted for 25% of collected blood. Now, demand for blood products is up 10% nationwide.

Some hospitals have had to delay scheduled surgeries. At NYU Langone Health in New York City, surgeon-in-chief Dr. Paresh Shah said they came close to doing the same.

“There’s this huge backlog of operations that really needed to get done,” Shah said. “We were down to such a low inventory of blood that if we had one major transfusion event, we would have been depleted completely.”

He said the lack of blood can mean life or death in trauma situations.

Eleven-year-old Iggy Friday was diagnosed with Leukemia this winter and has needed more than 30 transfusions during chemotherapy. His recent platelet transfusion was delayed because of the shortage — luckily for just a few hours.

“I did think about the people who needed it now and stuff. So that’s why I was fine with waiting,” he said. “It helps a lot of people and can save a lot of lives.”

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