Blood shortage in Southwest Ohio, state: How it’s affecting local hospitals

Nancy Gillespie, from Dayton, donates blood Monday, June 28, 2021, at the Community Blood Center near downtown Dayton. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Nancy Gillespie, from Dayton, donates blood Monday, June 28, 2021, at the Community Blood Center near downtown Dayton. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Southwest Ohio and the rest of the state are experiencing a blood shortage, prompting calls for donations and medical staff to conserve supplies ahead of the holiday weekend.

“There is great concern that some patients may not be able to receive life saving infusions of blood and blood products despite current efforts to conserve these resources,” Ohio Division of EMS Executive Director Rob Wagoner said in a news release.

The ongoing pandemic, decreased donations, and an increased use of blood to treat trauma cases were cited as causes of the shortage.

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The Community Blood Center reports a six-day supply of usable blood after dipping down to a three-day supply at the start of last week. It’s comfortable with its current stock level heading into Fourth of July weekend, according to marketing manager Mark Pompilio.

Neither Dayton Children’s Hospital nor Miami Valley Hospital have encountered a delay in medical procedures or services due to the shortage, and their main concerns involve maintaining desired supply levels for usable blood, according to Dayton Children’s Hospital transfusion manager T.J. Brooks and Miami Valley Hospital South trauma director and surgeon Dr. Alyssa Gans.

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Nancy Gillespie, from Dayton, donates blood at the Dayton Community Blood Center Monday June 28, 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Nancy Gillespie, from Dayton, donates blood at the Dayton Community Blood Center Monday June 28, 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Nancy Gillespie, from Dayton, donates blood at the Dayton Community Blood Center Monday June 28, 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Medical staff have been asked to do what they can to conserve available blood, especially heading into a holiday weekend with historically higher trauma rates, Gans said.

“We’ve been getting warned, ‘Be careful that you are only transfusing when you really need it,’ several times over the last couple of weeks,” she said. “I do know that the blood supply in town has been critically low for several weeks now, and heading into the holiday weekend, that’s always a concern.”

The current summer season is one of the contributing factors to the area’s ongoing blood shortage, Pompilio said.

“The season has traditional challenges, because with summer you have donors distracted with more outdoor activities and vacation travel,” he said. “A big component of our collection success is high school blood drives, (but) of course schools are out for the summer.”

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As COVID-19 restrictions have been gradually rescinded across the state, Dayton residents are eager to experience the newly reopened community. However, this has made it more difficult to attract donors, Pompilio said.

“Even though we’re seeing restrictions easing every day, the easing of those restrictions are only encouraging people to do more of the summer activities that are distractions for some folks from donating,” he said.

The Community Blood Center will host a “Christmas in July” blood drive on July 2, 3 and 5. Each person who donates will be allowed to pick a mystery gift from the “Christmas tree,” with prizes including gift cards, Yeti tumblers and more. The goal of the promotion is to appeal to all types of blood donors, Pompilio said.

A spokesperson for Dayton Children’s told the Dayton Daily News that the hospital recently hosted an employee blood drive. Though such drives are a routine occurrence, Dayton Children’s made an extra push to publicize this one in light of the recent blood shortage. The hospital received 84 units of blood in donations, which far surpassed the original target number, the spokesperson said.

There is reason for optimism regarding the shortage ahead of the holiday weekend in the wake of Dayton Children’s Hospital’s blood drive, Brooks said.

“I’m feeling pretty good personally about where we are for over the weekend for the community as a whole,” he said.

For many Dayton residents, donating blood is an good way to give back and ensure their actions will have a tangible impact on someone else’s life. Huber Heights resident Jackie Creamer donated blood Monday at the Community Blood Center. She said it’s easy to donate and encouraged her fellow Daytonians to do so if they can.

“The people are very kind and very nice and they walk you through the process,” she said. “It isn’t hard to give blood. It’s vital for the community and for people’s health.”

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