Hoxworth usually experiences a shortage in the winter due to bad weather, flu season and other causes. The current shortage is due, in part, to the cold snap, which resulted in several canceled blood drives that were projected to collect many units of blood, Lipton said.
The blood center has only 65 percent of the optimal type O negative inventory and 71 percent of type A needed to serve more than 30 hospitals.
“We are asking the community to support our efforts to ensure that those in need will have lifesaving blood products available when needed,” said Dr. Jose Cancelas, Hoxworth’s director.
The amount of blood on hand can drop to critically low levels for a number of reasons, but “it’s usually a combination of low donor turnout and high blood usage, Lipton said.
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High usage can result from unexpected traumas such as shootings, car accidents and other incidents, transplants that require a lot of blood and ongoing treatment for cancer patients and sickle cell patients, she said.
“This week, we had several transplants in the area that required a significant amount of blood,” Lipton said. “Winter is historically a bad time for blood banks across the nation as holidays, bad weather and flu season can keep people from donating regularly.”
How bad it has to get for an appeal to be launched varies on the specific type. For example, Hoxworth now needs “a lot more” O+ blood on hand than AB-, because a higher percentage of the population has O+, but its considers Urgent Need to be anything below roughly 75 to 80% percent of inventory and Critical Need to be below 65 to 70 percent, Lipton said.
“Once we hit critical need — and our forecasts continue to show low donor turnout — we will put out a call to the community,” she said.
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A shortage can be devastating to local patients who require blood not just for traumas but regular transfusions as part of their treatment for cancer or sickle cell disease, she said.
“Sometimes we’ll try to motivate donors with something fun like a T-shirt or gift card, but honestly, our community really does come to our aid when have a critical shortage,” Lipton said. “Most people aren’t donating to get anything out of it — they are doing it because they know it’s the right thing to do, and that they are helping people right here in the community — potentially even saving lives.”
About Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati
• Founded in 1938
• Operates seven Neighborhood Donor Centers (Anderson, Blue Ash, Ft. Mitchell, West Chester Twp., Tri-County, Western Hills and the Hoxworth Center adjacent to University Hospital.)
• Serves more than 30 hospitals in 18 counties in the Tri-State area, including West Chester Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus, Bethesda Arrow Springs and more
• Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged. Call 513-451-0910 or visit www.hoxworth.org.