Doctors fear we are one major incident away from tragedy; blood supplies remain at lowest level in a decade

Health

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — We know blood donations save lives, but the message may not hit home until you hear how close one local community came to tragedy.

“Last month, when there was that shooting at the local [Heritage] high school, at first we did not know what we would be receiving here in terms of patients and we were nervous,” Riverside Regional Medical Center Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Cohen told WAVY.

Nervous because blood supplies across Virginia and the nation are running low.

“That was the one moment during this whole shortage that we were really thinking ‘You know, this might impact patients and patients lives,'” Cohen said.

It’s been an ongoing issue since the pandemic started more than a year and a half ago.

“What we like to have on hand typically, is about a five-day supply of those key blood types. On an average day now, we are seeing sometimes less than a half-day supply,” American Red Cross Regional Communications Director Jonathan McNamara said.

McNamara said the Red Cross is working around the clock to add more blood drives and offering incentives to those who roll up their sleeves.

“We’re partnering with Amazon, offering them a trip to Hawaii in partnership with the new show ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,'” he said.

Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma from Nov. 1-12, 2021, will automatically be entered to win a trip for two to Hawaii, courtesy of Amazon Prime Video. All who come to give Nov. 1-23 will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email, thanks to Amazon.

While hospitals have been experiencing a higher demand for blood products this year compared to last year
Sentara, Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters, and Riverside all report they can keep up with daily demands, but the situation is fluid.

The Red Cross says it needs 10,000 additional donations each week to make sure there is enough blood available.

Cohen joined their plea for help.

“If you are healthy, please donate blood because we were one mass casualty away from exhausting our supplies,” Cohen said.

If you would like to find a blood drive where you can donate blood or if you’d like to host a blood drive click here.

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