Not Enough O Negative Blood Available to Sustain Local Hospitals, Program to Help Victims of Uvalde Shooting Also Announced
The Blood Connection’s O negative blood supply has now reached a critical level. Because The Blood Connection (TBC) is the primary blood provider for hospitals in this region, the need for O negative blood donations is dire. The combination of already low supply, the approaching summer season, and sustained low donor turnout could result in an O negative blood shortage soon, which could disrupt patient care.
Last week, TBC was activated through the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), to send O negative blood to South Texas after the devastating school shooting. The need for O negative blood has since been highlighted by that tragedy but has unfortunately not resulted in an increase in O negative donations. Adding to the issue, the summer months are usually the hardest season to collect enough, exacerbated by an increase in travel and traumas. It is estimated that summer travel will increase by 16% and 75% of Americans are expected to take a summer vacation, indicating this travel season is set to be the busiest since the pandemic – a sign that people are returning to normal. As that happens, the fear is that patients like Kristen Odom will continue to be overlooked.
“During my labor, unbeknownst to anyone…I was bleeding internally but no one knew it and it was not discovered until immediately after our daughter was born,” says Odom. “I will never forget one anesthesiologist yelling over the team, referring to blood, ‘I don’t care where you get it, but I need it, and I need it now.’ After I came out of ICU, my husband and I realized how much blood I needed, and the fact that donated blood was the key factor that turned everything around.”
O negative blood is the most transfused blood type for traumas and emergencies, so the demand never wavers. O negative blood donors are often referred to as the “universal donor” since everyone, no matter their blood type, can receive O negative blood. TBC aims to have a 5-7 day supply of O negative blood but has recently had a one day supply. In some instances, one trauma case alone can use up that supply.
TBC has also announced a program that uses blood donations to help victims of the Uvalde shooting. TBC blood donors now have the option to convert their reward points into a monetary donation to the Robb School Memorial Fund (One Star Foundation) through the TBC online store. These funds will be used locally to support the families and community affected in Uvalde, Texas.