Blood banks at historic lows, dire need for donations

NOW: Blood banks at historic lows, dire need for donations

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — Versiti, The Red Cross and other organizations across the country say the need for blood is dire. 

It’s the lowest supply in a decade, but unlike the past, numbers haven’t rebounded.

“Through the years, I’ve seen shortages but this has been going on for some time and we’ve gotten down to a one-day supply,” said Dan Waxman, MD, Vice President of Transfusion Medicine at Versiti Blood Center.

A one-day supply of blood – when typically, it would be at five days. 

That’s forced them to make decisions like lowering delivery amounts to hospitals. 

“There’s times when they’re ordering and say they’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to get more blood, they’re just hoping they don’t have an emergency case that needs more than what they have in the refrigerator,” said Dr. Waxman. 

Whether it be Versiti or another blood bank, donating from start to finish only takes an hour.

You may think there’s a reason you’re not eligible, but people with most health conditions can still donate. 

“You can take several blood pressure medications, if people take insulin for diabetes they can be a blood donor, even people who’ve had cancer, if it’s been one year and they’re cancer free, they can be donors,” said Dr. Waxman.

Versiti lost access to 30 percent of donors because of the pandemic – due to not being able to do blood drives at schools or workplaces. 

You can donate on your own time at Versiti’s office, but since they don’t have any Northwest Indiana locations, Dr. Waxman recommends the South Bend Medical Foundation donor centers in South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart. 

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