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First ever national blood crisis felt in the Coastal Empire, Lowcountry

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:13 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Blood donations across the country are reaching critically low levels, including right here in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.

“The American Red Cross is, we’ve declared the first ever national blood crisis. This is unprecedented,” said Maria Center, Southeast Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The winter months are typically the slowest for blood donations. But there are several additional factors in play right now, what the local chapter of the American Red Cross called a perfect storm, that has nonprofits like this one issuing a desperate plea.

A recent surge in COVID cases on top of severe weather and supply chain and staffing issues nationally has put a huge dent in the American Red Cross blood supply.

Maria Center, Executive Director for the Southeast Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross says ideally, they’d like to have a five day supply of blood on the shelf here locally.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen less than a days supply of blood.”

And that has Center and other nonprofits like hers concerned about the impact to patients at area hospitals that depend on their donations.

While larger hospitals like Memorial Health may still be alright for now on blood supply, more rural facilities that aren’t might have to send patients elsewhere for treatments and transfusions that depend on donated blood.

“Even local hospitals are in crisis mode. So it is definitely a situation where we need everybody that can donate, to please donate,” said Dr. Mickey Ott, trauma surgeon at Memorial Health.

“You could be in a car accident, you might need blood. Someone you love might be undergoing cancer treatments. This is something all of us can understand, and why it is so important,” Center said.

“Imagine if one natural disaster or one mass shooting happens, our entire inventory would be wiped. I mean, we’re seeing the lowest inventory almost in our company’s history,” said Mercy Myers with The Blood Connection.

In addition to needing donors, nonprofits are also looking for community partners to host blood donation events.

“In their church, in their neighborhood, at their business...so if that’s something that you’d be willing to do, please reach out to The Blood Connection,” Myers said.

You can find more information on how you can help through either donations or by hosting a blood donation event here.

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