Blood donors in high demand – Dominion Post – The Dominion Post

As COVID-19 restricts residents from leaving their homes, Monongalia County is faced with a lack of blood donors.

The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak, said Jason Keeling, executive director of the American Red Cross local chapter.

Nationally, 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled with 63 being canceled in West Virginia.

Due to the cancellations, West Virginia is down 1,800 pints of blood from its typical intake, which would usually be enough to save up to 600 lives.

Keeling said contributions from the public are now desperately needed to save lives.

It inhibits the nations ability to have blood supply available for those that need it most such as cancer patients and those needing emergency procedures, Keeling said.

The Centers for Disease Control encourages anyone who is healthy even if they are social distancing to donate.

Keeling said additional precautionary measures are being taken to protect staff and those who choose to donate. He said everyone who comes in to donate is having their temperature taken first and using social distancing.

Those who have traveled abroad to China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea within the last 28 days are asked not to donate.

Hospitals, including WVU Medicine, have been working through the shortage to ensure those who need donations the most are not left without them.

Aaron Shmookler, assistant professor in the WVU department of pathology, anatomy, and laboratory medicine said WVU Medicine has postponed or canceled elective surgeries to avoid any complications.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplants, which is often used to treat cancer, have also been delayed. Schmookler said many of the blood products for this type of cellular therapy come from donors living outside the United States, which has made it difficult to administer the products to those who need them.

We have routine blood orders not being filled to 100%, Schmookler said. Although generally we have maintained stock of our inventory, over time a dwindling blood supply will make it more difficult to provide transfusion support when clinically indicated.

WVU Medicine has continued to treat patients with complex medical issues, including hemorrhagic shock, postpartum bleeding, surgery, cancer, and heart disease. Schmookler said blood has never been denied to those who need it.

In the case that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, and the blood supplies continue to diminish, Schmookler said it would force hospitals to make a difficult decision.

This coordinated effort is essential to ensure that the best clinical and laboratory decisions are made for each patient who needs blood, he said. The worst possible plan would be having to make very, very difficult and complex ethical decisions on who receives those last precious units of available blood. I am certainly hopeful for the best.

Several local blood drives are still scheduled for the coming weeks, and residents are encouraged to register by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org.

Morgantown Red Cross drives will be held 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, noon-5:30 p.m. Thursday and noon-5 p.m. Friday at the Morgantown Red Cross office.

From noon-4 p.m. April 7, an additional drive will be held at the Fresh Harvest Church in Morgantown.

I implore everyone who is healthy and eligible to please donate blood, Schmookler said. Call your local blood donation center, make an appointment, and help me and my professional clinical and laboratory colleagues in the hospital care for our relatives, our loved ones, and our friends.

By Gabriella Brown

TWEET @DominionPostWV

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Blood donors in high demand - Dominion Post - The Dominion Post

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