AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Blood donations have dropped across the nation over the past 18 months. Local blood centers are reminding the public that every time you donate, you help save three local lives.
At Shepeard Community Blood Center, blood and platelet stock is dwindling. There are a few units of most blood types left on the shelf, but there is only one unit of O- blood left at the facility.
“Across the country it has become increasing more difficult to get blood donors in the door and to get platelet donors and plasma donors,” director of community resources at Shepeard Community Blood Center, Ashley Whitaker said.
Blood drive events are usually held at schools or in social settings, but because of COVID protocols, many of these events have been cancelled and donors aren’t coming to the center often enough.
“Getting donors in the door has been very difficult,” Whitaker said. “A lot of the businesses and schools that we normally hold blood drives with, they’re still not able to hold those blood drives with us. So that means decrease in donations.”
Shepeard supplies blood to more than five local hospitals and medical centers. Augusta University Health is the region’s level one trauma center, which is the highest level of trauma care, and they use the most blood locally.
“We use it pretty much everyday,” AU Health trauma surgeon Dr. Adil Abuzeid said.
Trauma patients are those who have been in life threatening accidents, like car crashes, or having been shot or stabbed. These people have lost a significant amount of blood, and for them, donations are a matter of life or death.
“If you talk about people who die after an accident, 40 percent of them have bled to death,” Dr. Abuzeid said.
Dr. Abuzeid says pre-pandemic, hospitals had a 10 day blood supple on hand. Now, hospitals have a one to two day supply in house.
“In normal circumstances, even if we’re short here, we can get some from nearby municipalities. Like we can reach out to Columbia or Charleston or whatever. But if everyone’s in the same boat, no one can help each other out,” Dr. Abuzeid said.
And blood donations have a shelf life. Red blood cells are good up to six days after donation, and blood plasma only five.
“We need a constant supply to keep the turnover going and to make up what we use everyday as well as what expires,” Dr. Abuzeid said.