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Demand For Donor Blood Is Double Than Normal At South Texas Center

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Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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Apheresis technician Anthony Guerra, left, assists donor Michael Mazzuca give blood at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center on Wednesday. Mazzuca, a nurse, said it is important to donate because blood is the gift of life.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is putting out an urgent call for blood donations.

Center officials report the blood demand from area hospitals is double what it normally is, from 600 units a day to 1,300. Demand is up because of a higher number of trauma patients and packed hospitals.  

“We’ve reached out to numerous other blood centers, but communities across the country are facing severe shortages, so there is no blood available,” said Elizabeth Whitman, chief operating office of the center on I-10 West, near Vance Jackson Road.

The center supplies blood to 100 hospitals and medical facilities across South Texas. Whitman said donations are needed to make blood available for surgeries and cancer patients, as well as for unexpected trauma situations.

“We are at the point when patients need everyone in our community to donate and for businesses and community leaders to support blood drives,” she said.

Center officials said donations typically decline during the holidays, and then they saw a 10% higher demand in December 2019 than they did in December 2018.

All blood types are needed, but demand is up for type O. And while O-negative donors make up just 7% of the population, it can be used for any patient in an emergency. That’s why O-negative blood makes up 12% of the annual orders from South Texas hospitals, according to a news release from the center.

The University Health System also issued it's own call for blood donations on Wednesday.

“It is not looking good. Since I have been here we have never been this low with a grim forecast on being replenished,” said Dr. Leslie Greebon, University Health System medical director of transfusion services.

University Health System reported trauma patients can require hundreds of units of blood, so if the shortage continues, some scheduled surgeries may have to be canceled. Difficult births and serious surgeries also place a big demand on blood supplies.

To schedule a donation at the South Texas Regional Blood & Tissue Center, visit here.

To schedule a donation at UHS, check out this link.

Donors should be aged 17 or up, in general good health, and weigh at least 110 pounds.  All donors should also eat well and make sure they hydrate before, during and after donating.

Refreshments and snacks are provided to donors at the center. All donors also receive a wellness check.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.