AUSTIN, Texas — With the national blood supply dangerously low, Red Cross has officially declared the first-ever national blood crisis.
In Central Texas, We Are Blood is searching for donors because demand is extremely high.
"What we're seeing is an extraordinary increase in the amount of blood transfusions needed for local Central Texas patients," said Nick Canedo, We Are Blood's vice president of community engagement. "So, we're talking about surgical patients, cancer patients, trauma patients."
Canedo said this demand is driven by population growth, a higher number of traumas and new health care programs that opened the door for many who wouldn't have access otherwise.
However, not only is demand high, supply is low.
"We're seeing a drastic dip in donations coming out of the holiday season, and also as a result of the omicron variant," he added.
Add to that fewer mobile blood drives. This has been an ongoing problem. Only now, we've reached critically low levels.
Mary Ann Moss has been donating for years, the pandemic pushed her to get out and help as much as she can.
"I'm not a doctor," said Moss. "I don't help people that way. So, I figure, if this helps even one or two people, that's something."
As more people like her begin to turn up, Canedo had to tell the 40 local clinics and hospitals they supply blood to, to preserve as much as they can while more blood donations come in.
"The hospitals are looking at what procedures to do ... during a conservation mode like we are in right now," said Canedo.
"Our hospitals have implemented blood shortage protocols to ensure that our caregivers are aware of the national shortage and to ensure the most judicious use of blood products, but we have not delayed any surgeries or care," said a St. David's spokesperson. "We continue to provide our patients the high level of care that they need, including trauma services. Multiple St. David’s HealthCare hospitals have conducted successful blood drives within our facilities."
Baylor Scott & White did not get back to us by the time of publishing.
In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to go out and donate. Canedo said you must be at least 17 years old and weigh 115 pounds to donate whole blood.
When you arrive on-site, they'll have you answer a questionnaire about your medication, prior health history and travel, and also do a quick iron test to make sure you qualify.
For those who are interested, head over to WeAreBlood.org to schedule your appointment. Every blood draw takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and it can save the life of up to three people.
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