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Medical professionals start to see effect of blood shortage

‘Doctors are being forced to make difficult decisions’
KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The American Red Cross is seeing its most drastic blood shortage in the past 10 years. And, local health care experts say, that shortage is leaving its mark on southern Arizona.

Tucson Infectious Disease Doctor Steven Oscherwitz says that historic blood shortage is leading the Red Cross to implement a daily limit of all red blood cells.

As of Monday, Jan. 17, all hospitals and blood banks are now assigned a daily maximum. Oscherwitz says this should concern just everyone.

“All of us may need blood and you never know when,” said Oscherwitz. “The oncologists and surgeons and gastrointestinal doctors are the main ones to use blood and they have had problems getting enough to take care of patients, especially for ICU patients.”

Oscherwitz says at this point it’s simple: The supply can not meet the demand.

“Doctors are being forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions; that’s accident victims, cancer patients, seriously ill people that need blood transfusions to live,” said Oscherwitz.

He chalks up the shortage in part to the rising number of COVID cases and says because so many people are sick and that leads to staff shortages. The Red Cross says the shortage is also being caused by the cancellation of blood drives and staffing issues.

Right now, the Red Cross says they have about a days worth of blood on hand and they’re hoping that number rises.

“Your pump needs something to pump and if there’s no blood in there that’s a problem,” said Oscherwitz.

The Red Cross tells us just 3 percent of the population currently donates blood. They’re asking the public to please consider donating because it could save a life. To find a location close to you to donate, go to www.redcrossblood.org and your zip code. You can also call 1-800-REDCROSS.

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