AP NEWS

Regional blood supply at crisis level

May 28, 2019

LifeShare Blood Center and several of its hospital partners, are issuing an emergency appeal. Patient care is being severely threatened by the inadequate blood supply that the region has been experiencing for the last several weeks and they need the immediate help of the public.

“Unfortunately, for many people, it is a problem you don’t realize exists unless you have a friend or family member in the hospital whose treatment is delayed or postponed because blood is not available,” said LifeShare Regional Director Brooke Hulett.

Hulett said at their current state, LifeShare is currently unable to fill hospital orders and is rationing blood.

“Hospitals may ask us for 20 units, but they only get 10. We can’t send what we don’t have. We consider an adequate blood supply to be about a three to five-day supply of red blood cells,” said Benjamin Prijatel, director of blood operatios. “This weekend we had as little as an 8-hour supply of some blood types.”

Hospitals stretching from Liberty to Chambers to Jefferson County are feeling the crisis where patient care is being affected.

“Our blood donations haven’t picked up following the Christmas holidays, around January,” said Tiffany Ybarra,” said Tiffany Ybarra, MLT (ASCP) at LifeShare.

Ybarra said they don’t like it, but they usually see a seasonal shortage in December and January and then donations begin to pick up. This year they didn’t.

“It’s not just Southeast Texas, or just LifeShare. It’s a nationwide issue,” she said.

Just last Friday, Ybarra said they had four different blood centers from around the state requesting blood from them.

“I keep up with many of the other blood centers and they are doing different promotions to coax people in to give,” she said, but with the critical nature of the current supply, she felt it necessary to go to the public and make them aware.

“I know there’s been severe weather in different areas of our coverage that might have prevented people from coming in and donating, but in my 25 years of being in this business, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ybarra said.

LifeShare is asking anyone who is eligible to donate blood.

If citizens can’t, they are strongly encouraging those who can to give and share information about the current crisis to their friends and family.

“Anyone in the community can help us overcome this situation,” Hulett said.

The temptation to disqualify oneself might be premature.

“We really don’t want folks to disqualify themselves without asking us if they have a question about whether they can donate or not,” said Tiffany Ybarra, MLT (ASCP).

As an example, she said, “Some think that if they have diabetes they can’t donate, but they can.”

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center recently hosted a blood drive but would be among those that might require more blood in the event of a crisis.

“They’re not close to us so it’s not like we can get there within 10 minutes,” Ybarra said.

She also pointed out that whole blood has a shelf life of 42 days but in most cases is used long before it ever reaches that point.

To help in the crisis drive, there are several opportunities to give in the Liberty County area in the next few days:

--May 28, Walmart in Liberty, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

--May 30, First United Methodist Church in Liberty, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

--May 31, Brookshire Brothers in Dayton, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

--June 12, Walmart in Liberty, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about donor eligibility and upcoming blood drives, call 409-838-5289 or visit their website at LifeShare.org.

dtaylor@hcnonline.com

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