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UVA Medical Center, Red Cross struggle with blood shortage

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:10 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Hospitals are grappling with more than just COVID-19.

The University of Virginia Medical Center says it is dealing with a blood shortage that could cause issues with patients needing major surgeries.

This blood shortage issues has impacted UVA Health since last fall, which is expected after a holiday or serious weather event. However, the Red Cross says the snow storm Monday, January 3, caused a major hit to its supply.

“If we have several significant trauma patients, they can basically use a whole day’s blood supply,” UVA Medical Blood Bank Manager Thomas Brady said Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Brady says if the shortage lingers, then surgeries may have to be canceled.

Things could get more dire if the hospital has to handle a major-trauma event: “The Red Cross probably couldn’t not readily restock us with more blood and platelets,” Brady said.

Sixty different Red Cross blood drives were canceled last week due to snow and ice, equating a loss of roughly 2,000 units of blood.

“They depend on us to have the blood they need to provide the surgeries, for trauma patients, and it it is our responsibility to make sure that blood is there,” Bill Brent with American Red Cross Central Virginia Chapter said.

Brady says this isn’t just a weather issue, but also a scheduling issue.

“They have to place the phlebotomists at an area and people have to sign up, so that’s sort of discouraging to the donating public because they think, ‘I can’t do it later on, why can’t I just do it right now?’” Brady said.

The shortage is now causing doctors at UVA to cut platelet doses in half, while others have to wait for treatment.

“We’re talking about people who are in pain who are having to wait days to get the right match. These are not realities that we should be facing,” Brent said.

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