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Donation centers, hospitals experiencing severe blood shortage

Posted at 11:05 AM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 14:54:55-04

PHOENIX — Blood donation centers across the country are seeing an 'unprecedented' shortage, as surgeries that were postponed during the pandemic pick back up.

According to Dr. Pampee Young, Chief Medical Officer of Biomedical Services for the American Red Cross, it's been two decades since hospitals have experienced a shortage like this.

She says in the last three months, the Red Cross has provided 75,000 more units of blood than expected. That's more blood than pre-pandemic levels.

“There have been a lot of backlog in surgeries and hospitals are trying to play catch up," said Dr. Young. "Additionally, several of the patients who postponed surgeries during the pandemic are coming in much sicker and needing more blood.”

Vitalant, which supplies blood to more than 900 hospitals across the country, says they are also experiencing a critical blood shortage.

ABC15 spoke with Bob Emmelkamp, a long-time Arizona resident who donates blood through Vitalant once every two weeks. In the past 35 years, he's donated blood more than 400 times. He's encouraging everyone to take the time this summer to donate.

Severe blood shortage across the country

"I also found out that whether you realize it or not, there's somebody in your circle of family, friends or acquaintances, that needs blood soon and if it's not on the shelves that's going to cause possibly danger to their health," he said.