‘It’s serious’: Health providers plead for donations amid blood shortage


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan health care providers are sending out an urgent message: We need blood.

The coronavirus pandemic has really hurt the blood supply, which is down to a one-day supply of Type O blood at Spectrum Health.

Most of the blood drives held at business, schools and churches were canceled this year, which is part of the reason we are in a potentially dangerous situation.

Spectrum Health’s supply is down 40%, or 20,000 units of blood.

Additionally, there’s been a 10% increase in hospital procedures since many people put them off during the pandemic.

Breaking it down even further, the most universal blood type, O, is down to a one-day supply when it should be at four to five days.

All of this is making health officials anxious.

“It’s serious,” said Dawn Kaiser, the area vice president of Versiti Blood Center of Michigan. “If we go below one day, then we have no blood on our shelves. So, if we don’t get at least 500 donations a day in the state of Michigan, we could get critically low. That would mean in a case of an emergency – what we call a mas-transfusion protocol — might not be there for those accidents.”

Summer is prone to those emergency incidents — whether on the road or on the water — where blood may be needed for treatments. As of now, it’s concerning. Critical surgeries are still going as scheduled, but blood is being used sparingly.

“So that’s why we are asking the community to please help because the only way we are going to get blood is through you, your neighbors, your friends and family,” Kaiser said. 

The Kent County Health Department held an employee drive to help, but more people will have to step up because every 42 days, the blood goes bad.  

The donation process takes about 45 minutes on site from start to finish. You can learn more on Versiti’s website.

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