Hospitals struggling to respond to nationwide blood shortages

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A desperate and urgent need for blood donations is hitting about every state in the country, and Tennessee is one of them.

Dr. Jennifer Andrews with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says that blood donations typically slow down in the summer, combine that with growing trauma rates and it’s a perfect storm.

Nationally, trauma rates are up ten percent and numbers spiked as pandemic restrictions loosened. To put it simply, in a mass trauma situation, Dr. Andrews says Vanderbilt could expend three to four days of blood supply in a matter of hours.

“Usually, we have a few days on hand,” said Dr. Andrews, “We’re down to just having one or one and a half days of our typical use of blood products on hand, which is very unusual. Vanderbilt takes care of some of the sickest patients in Tennessee and across the world. We need to be ready for any contingency that happens, any patient that rolls in the door.”

While Vanderbilt is not delaying surgeries yet, other hospitals are facing that dilemma.

The American Red Cross says the shortage could last through at least mid-July, and they are offering incentives to people who step up and donate blood. They usually have a five-day supply of all types of blood, but currently the storage of O-type blood would only last half a day.

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