The Rhode Island Blood Center today declared its third blood emergency this year, with a one-to-two-day supply, well below what it said is its ideal inventory of seven days.

It joins blood centers across the nation that are experiencing similar shortages, described by a Red Cross official in Tennessee of “causing hospitals to actually reconsider doing surgeries if they’re not absolutely necessary.” 

Blood shortages have persisted during the pandemic, as blood drives at traditional locations were postponed, canceled, or reduced as schools turned to remote learning, and many companies allowed employees to work from home.

The Rhode Island Blood Center, which is independent of the Red Cross and owned by the New York Blood Center, operates blood donation centers in Rhode Island in Westerly, Providence, Woonsocket, Narragansett, Warwick, and Aquidneck (683 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown). The Blood Center also holds blood drives across the state at businesses, school, and various organizations. Donors can call 401-453-8383 to make an appointment to donate, or just walk-in to a donor center.

The Aquidneck Center is open Mondays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 7:30 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The severity of the blood shortage has medical professionals extremely concerned.

“During this unprecedented time, adequate blood supply has been critically low,” said Dr. Phyllis A. Dennery, Medical Director of Hasbro Children’s Hospital in a statement released by the Blood Center. “Blood is essential in allowing us to provide the most advanced pediatric medical care to our young patients.”

The Blood Center blamed shortages on a reduction of first-time donors, the pandemic and its impact on workers (many working from home), impacts from COVID, and few high school blood drives.

The Red Cross also warned that the flue season could worsen shortages. 

Here’s a look at the situation at a few other blood centers.

  • The Blood Bank of Delmarva (Del.) announced a blood emergency Dec. 2, with region’s blood supply at a three-day level, below the preferred seven-day level.
  • Tower Regional Health hospitals reported critical shortages on Dec. 1.
  • Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Cod Healthcare announced a series of blood drives Dec. 1 scheduled throughout December to relieve shortages in the region.
  • The Community Blood Bank in Sioux Falls, S.D. reported a severe blood shortage on Nov. 30.
  • Officials at the UP Regional Blood Center in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula said the organization is in critical need of blood donors on Nov. 29.
  • Officials at Raleigh General Hospital and Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, both in Beckley, W.Va., held a press conference Nov. 24 urging the public to donate blood before the shortage in the state becomes critical.
  • A blood shortage in the Nashville area reached such a crisis level that Vanderbilt University Medical Center deputy CEO Wright Pinson told employees their help was “urgently needed” in upcoming blood drives by the American Red Cross.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....