Blood Bank of Delmarva facing supply shortage

Delaware State News
Posted 12/2/21

DOVER — The Blood Bank of Delmarva announced a blood emergency on Thursday due in large part to fears of the omicron variant of COVID-19, as well as the holiday season.

With the omicron …

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Blood Bank of Delmarva facing supply shortage

Posted

DOVER — The Blood Bank of Delmarva announced a blood emergency on Thursday due in large part to fears of the omicron variant of COVID-19, as well as the holiday season.

With the omicron variant creating new concern, donors with upcoming appointments and organizations with upcoming blood drives are canceling, creating extra volatility to the blood supply.

Hospitals and patients must be able to rely upon a steady flow of volunteer donors. The new variant is causing new uncertainty at the worst time of the year, as the Blood Bank heads into the winter and holiday season.

“In a normal year, winter is a difficult time to maintain the blood supply,” said Patty Killeen, senior executive director at BBD. “Unpredictable weather, cold and flu season, school breaks, family and holiday travel all contribute to making blood donations less of a priority.

“Normally, October and November are a time where we build our inventory in anticipation of these challenges, but this year is especially dire without a solid inventory pre-holiday and the news of a new variant.”

Currently, the region’s blood supply stands at a three-day level, well below the ideal inventory of seven days. Most precariously, the key blood types of O positive and O negative are at 0.9 and 0.8 days, respectively.

Blood centers across the country are and have been suffering from shortages for the 19 months of the pandemic.

Many factors complicate the situation, including:

• Donor fatigue from constant urgent/critical messages and a significant decrease in first-time donors stepping up to help.

• Working from home is the new normal, preventing many organizations from being able to host successful blood drives.

• Hundreds of groups that had supported the blood supply pre-pandemic have not resumed blood drives.

• Widespread fear of COVID-19 infection continues and new fears about the omicron variant keep donors away.

• Many high schools and colleges, which accounted for 25% of the BBD’s blood donations, have not returned to hosting blood drives.

• Donor confusion over eligibility around vaccination status. (Donors are equally confused about whether having nor not having the vaccine impacts their ability to give blood.)

• Currently, there is no national surplus. Prior to the pandemic, a national surplus of blood products would be used to mitigate any regional blood shortages.

• During the busy holiday season, people donate less. For instance, a Black Friday blood drive held at Tanger Outlets last week filled up only 30 of 95 appointments.

Donating blood only takes one hour. The BBD is taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. All staff are vaccinated.

As always, people are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. People can donate blood regardless of vaccination status.

Donors can schedule appointments by calling 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 or visiting www.delmarvablood.org.

“Donating blood is safe, easy and vital to those who need it,” Ms. Killeen said. “This is the season of giving and there is no better gift to your fellow Delmarva residents then life-saving blood donations.”