For patients in need of surgery, theres one more way the Coronavirus pandemic may affect them —a shortage of blood.
Experts say the COVID-19 pandemic is creating critical blood shortages in the U.S. ”It's not due to more COVID-19 patients needing blood products. Rather, it's a lack of donations coming in," says Dr. Justin Kreuter, transfusion medicine specialist with the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center.
"Our collections have really plummeted because of the concerns about being out in the community," he explains. "We're used to living at a one- to two-week blood inventory. Now a lot of the country is living at a one- to two-day inventory, and it's challenging to look at what our future holds.”
But it’s not just individual fear of Coronavirus infection that has resulted in a drop in blood donations. The practice of social distancing has led to the cancellation of an unprecedented number of blood drives that blood banks have come to rely on. The Red Cross is currently calling for organizers to maintain their scheduled blood drives, and is working to educate the public that donating blood is safe - there is no risk of getting COVID-19 from donating blood and that it is safe for healthy people to come to a blood donor center.
“Patients are still going to need emergent open-heart surgery. Premature babies are still going to be born, and we really want to still give them that chance at life," says Dr. Kreuter.