Emergency Blood Drive Held due to National Blood Shortage

In the midst of a national blood shortage, Sacred Heart University (SHU) held an emergency blood drive on Sept. 27 and 28.

According to the American Red Cross (ARC), fewer donors than needed donated blood this summer, drawing down the national blood supply and reducing distributions of some of the most needed blood types
to hospitals.

“Our blood supply is below the ideal five to seven day supply. There is a need for all blood types, but especially type O+, O- and B-. This is the second blood emergency we have declared this year as last year we declared five,” said Caitlin Grimaldi-Flick, Marketing and Communications Manager of Rhode Island Blood Center.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 800,000 blood donations were made at blood drives hosted by businesses. Last year, the ARC saw only about 500,000 blood donations at these locations – a nearly 40% drop from pre-pandemic levels, according to the ARC Press Release on Sept. 26.

“Blood donations have not returned to pre-
pandemic levels as lifestyles have changed over the past few years. That combined with a prolonged 50% decrease in youth and first-time donors and a difficult summer for blood donations have led to this blood emergency declaration. Our region is not alone in experiencing this shortage, as it is happening nationwide,” said Grimaldi-Flick.

“I donated blood today because my sister is a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital. It’s extremely vital that our campus comes together and donates,” said junior Caitlin MacDonald.

As for the medical personnel at St.Vincent’s Medical Center (SVMC) in Bridgeport, they have been taking necessary precautions to prevent the hospital from running out of blood.

“The staff has to be aware and use our current supply when necessary by not wasting blood and blood products,” said Eugene H. Lewis III, D.O. FCAP,

Chairman of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with Hartford HealthCare at SVMC.

The ARC is calling for a minimum of 10,000 additional blood donations nationwide each week over the next month to offset the critical shortage. “Connecticut Blood Center is operated by the Rhode Island Blood Center. Together, we service over 60 hospitals in our region. We work to provide blood product needs to these hospitals so they can provide patients with lifesaving treatment. This is why it is pivotal that everyone who is eligible comes out and donates blood,” said Grimaldi-Flick.
Once donated, the blood is sent through an extensive process to ensure safe delivery to patients.
“The blood is transported back to Middletown the same day, where it is tested for infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. Once the blood has tested negative, the components are separated into packed red blood cells, plasma and platelets,” said Lewis.

“Each time a person donates blood, they are helping multiple people because of how the blood components are separated. The blood products are then distributed to the hospitals that Connecticut Blood Center supplies,” added Lewis.
According to the ARC, someone in the U.S. needs blood and or platelets every two seconds.
“It is important that everyone who is eligible comes out and donates. Together, we can all play a role in helping the blood center navigate out of this blood shortage and help patients in our community. To prevent future blood shortages, we are encouraging everyone to rebook their next appointment,” said Grimaldi- Flick.

SHU will be holding an additional “Pioneers Have Heart” blood drive on Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Thursday, Dec. 7 in the Edgerton Center Atrium. To check for available dates and to schedule a donation appointment, visit ctblood.org/drives using the SHU sponsor code: C008.

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