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Worsening blood shortage impacting Central Coast hospitals and blood banks

The blood supply on the Central Coast has dropped by 50 percent since the start of summer
Posted at 6:06 PM, Aug 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 11:33:10-04

The Central Coast continues to feel the impacts of a nationwide blood shortage.

The blood supply on the Central Coast has dropped by 50 percent since the start of summer.

The critical shortage is starting to impact hospital operations.

“We’re shipping out blood to hospitals faster than it’s coming in so we need you to donate and make it a priority,” said Kevin Adler, communication manager for Vitalant.

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo handles a high volume of trauma patients and has a higher demand for blood.

“We do run into a lot of shortages and have to call out,” said Nico Boyd, who works as a nurse in Sierra Vista’s Intensive Care Unit.

It is possible supply shortages for hospitals could casue some surgeries to be delayed by a few or even several hours.

“If I went to the hospital and I needed a traumatic blood transfusion, I would like to have it ASAP as opposed to waiting a few hours,” Boyd said.

Hospital staff is able to rush in blood supplies from out of the area to treat patients in urgent need.

“Right now, because of the emergency that we’re having, we are rationing our supply to hospitals,” Adler said.

Blood banks are working with hospitals to make sure that donations are being used as efficiently as possible.

“But, of course, if a person’s life depends on it, we will find a way to get that person the blood that they need,” Adler said.

Blood banks say that businesses and community organizations are still not hosting as many blood drives as before the pandemic.

“We’re not collecting as much blood from our community blood drives which we rely on greatly to bring in that supply and really boost it up,” Adler added.

Blood donations typically run low in the summer, but this year’s shortage is worse than usual.

“I would urge people to donate blood because you never know if you’ll need it, you’ll never know if your neighbor needs it, your mom might need it, your kid might need it,” Boyd said.

If the shortage continues to get worse, hospitals could ask patients to delay non-essential surgeries.

This Wednesday, Aug. 31, Vitalant will hold a blood drive at KSBY TV located at 1772 Calle Joaquin in San Luis Obispo and at the Santa Maria Vitalant Donation Center at 1770 South Broadway in Santa Maria from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To make an appointment, click here.

Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton will also be hosting a blood drive on Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.