Blood Drive

Blood from Deb Stewart of Danville flows into a small bag while she donates blood in Danville at the East End Fire Company.

The national Red Cross blood inventory is the lowest it’s been at this time of year in six years. Valley hospital officials say they have adequate levels, but are still encouraging donations heading into the fall and winter.

According to the American Red Cross, the organization is experiencing an emergency blood and platelet shortage and must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month for the blood supply to recover and meet hospital and patient needs. Donors of all blood types — especially type O — and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to give now and in the weeks ahead to overcome this current shortage.

“Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds as donors are more available to give than during the busy summer months, but this year has presented a unique and serious challenge,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the Red Cross. “While it’s clear the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our minds, the Red Cross asks the public to remember donating blood and platelets is essential to the many patients that rely on lifesaving transfusions every day.”

Locally, officials at Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger said they currently have an adequate supply.

Renee L. Hartman administrative director of Laboratory Services at Evangelical said the hospital continues to receive an adequate supply of blood products to serve its patients.

“Blood products are a vital part of the care delivery system at all hospitals, and people who are eligible and can give are encouraged to do so,” she said. “Donating to the American Red Cross ensures all hospital Blood Banks stand ready to serve their communities giving them the ability to save lives.”

“Currently we are at our ideal inventories, but donors are needed to keep levels up through the winter and holiday season,” said Geisinger’s blood bank manager, Martha Marks. “There is always the fear that a large emergency will deplete the stock in the region and suppliers will be unable to refill hospitals. For location and scheduling information, visit www.giveapint.org. Donating blood is lifesaving.”

Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country due to the delta variant. As cases spiked in August, blood donor participation decreased about 10%, but blood product distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks.

Blood donations often wax and wane, but a shortage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is so severe that, if left unabated, it could result in rationing blood products, health officials said Monday.

“It’s a very real outcome if the collection cannot happen,” said Lisa Landis, an American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region spokesperson. “That’s the scary precedent.”

Tribune News Service contributed to this story.

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