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East Tenn. donors needed as nation faces ‘worst blood shortage’ in a decade

The American Red Cross is calling the nation’s blood supply the ‘worst blood shortage’ in a decade.
MEDIC supplies blood every day to 24 East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky hospitals.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 3:33 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:42 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The nation’s blood supply is at a dangerously low level and the story is the same in East Tennessee. The American Red Cross has reported the ‘worst blood shortage in more than a decade.’

Sharon Hudson, executive director of the American Red Cross, East Tennessee chapter said the supply is low because the pandemic has closed schools and businesses over the past two years, places where blood drives typically happen, and more people were staying home.

The American Red Cross reported several reasons for supply shortages:

  • 10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020.
  • 62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for ~25% of donors in 2019 accounted for just ~10% during the pandemic.
  • Ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations.
  • Additional factors like a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season may compound the already bad situation.

“There is such a critical need for donor to understand that you can’t go out and make and manufacture blood. You have to donate. So, the need is there,” said Hudson.

American Red Cross and MEDIC Regional Blood Center are both asking for donations. MEDIC supplies blood every day to 24 East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky hospitals. Kristy Altman, MEDIC director of communications said MEDIC has joined the blood emergency readiness corps (BERC) in case of emergencies that can help supply blood across the country or have blood sent to East Tennessee. She said it the first group to proactively prepare and plan for blood product needs in the event of a disaster or crisis situation.

“We’re trying to be proactive again, and and look ahead and be prepared for when these things happen, because they’re inevitable, you know, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s inevitable that we’re going to have tornadoes or that there’s going to be something that happens that has a large need for blood. And so this is a way to help be able to supply that those products to the hospitals and the ones that are needed when it comes around,” said Altman.

American Red Cross and MEDIC Regional Blood Center said all blood types are in critical need, especially O Negative and O Positive.

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