Hospitals, Trauma Centers Experience Blood Crisis, Asks For Donors

Kamari Esquerra

“It is a clear and real danger to our community both nationally and locally,” said Dr. Michael K. Mesisca, Medical Director and Emergency Medicine Department Chair of Riverside University Health System.

Not only is the nation facing a pandemic, it’s also facing a blood crisis- the worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care.

“The critical blood shortage has been a national issue. It’s gone on for some time but it’s definitely been worsened and intensified by situations related to the pandemic,” said Dr. Mesisca. “There is a tremendous mismatch that’s occurring between what our patients need and the supply that we have.”

Why the shortage? Some of the main reasons are shipping, supply lines, and decreased donations.

“Blood isn’t a resource that we can store and put into warehouses and pull out in the event of a disaster,” said Dr. Mesisca. “We can only store it for so long, it has to be replenished overtime and it has to come from donors.”

With three major blood banks in Riverside County, the problem isn’t accessibility. It’s a lack of supply – donors – to meet the blood demand.

Local hospitals are now down to zero units of blood on their shelves. To put that into perspective, a single trauma victim with a major injury could consume up to 40 units of blood within one to two hours of arrival. Health officials say doctors are highly skilled at hemorrhage limitation. In some cases, patient surgeries or organ donations have had to be postponed due to the lack of blood supply. But for some patients, there’s no alternative.

“You would hate to have to tell a family member if only we had had more donors or more blood, your young and otherwise healthy loved one would have survived,” said Dr. Mesisca.

Health officials say blood is a matter of life or death.

“Blood is  a miracle drug,” said Dr. Mesisca. “We see it bring patients back from the very brink of death right before our very eyes and without it, patients will die.”

“I’d like to encourage everyone to come out and donate,” said Ellen Kreizinger, a local blood donor. “We really need it.”

You can donate blood at local LifeStream Blood Banks in the Coachella Valley. For hours of operation and donor prerequisites, visit their website at www.lstream.org or click the link here.

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