Blood Supply Reaching Critical State with Donations Down, Usage Up in the Area

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 23, 2021 at 11:52am

Central Illinois has reached a dire need for blood as donations are still down and usage is rising.

Officials with ImpactLife, the organization that supplies blood for Memorial Health System’s hospitals and other hospitals in the region say the need for blood donors is critical right now.

Amanda Hess with ImpactLife says critical blood shortages are being seen in the wake of COVID-19 and donors are needed in the days ahead to ensure the blood supply remains available.

Hess says many groups in the community have not been able to hold blood drives over the last year due to the pandemic, but as restrictions have eased, she says ImpactLife blood centers have seen a concerning trend in the lack of blood donations.

Since about Memorial Day we have seen further challenges with donations, and we are not necessarily sure of all the reasons why donations have dropped so much since the holidays. We are only collecting about eighty-five percent of what we need to right now each week.

We are reaching out to groups that still continue to host with us, and trying to find ways to bring more donors into those locations. Of course, we also have our fixed donor locations, especially for those groups that maybe are still unable to host blood drives.”

Hess says compounding the problem of the blood shortage is increased usage by hospitals that is well above average as hospital usage in their service area has remained steady for years.

About 3,600 donations are needed per week to serve the more than 120 hospitals in the ImpactLife service area. Hess says this year they are averaging closer to 3,000 donations per week which could cause dire situations in hospitals soon.

Week over week having that kind of deficits, instead of having a five to seven-day shelf life of blood ready to go for our crisis situations when patients need it, we’ve been staying between a one and three-day supply.

In fact this morning I woke up to messaging from our product management department where we are now at a one-day supply of O negative red cells, O positive red cells, and A positive red cells. A less than a three-day supply of A negative and B is hovering right around that three to four-day supply. So much less blood on the shelves than what we really need to be able to do to make sure that those hospital shelves are full at all times and ready for whatever procedures, treatments, traumas come in the door.”

Hess says right now because there is such a high usage of blood and low donations across the population, blood centers have a shortage of even the most common types of blood.

We are doing everything we can to make sure that if there is someone awaiting platelet products for example during their cancer treatment, that they are not having to wait on that really critical procedure for their care. The same for heart surgeries and some of the more complicated surgeries, they make sure that there is enough of that blood type on the shelf before they are scheduling that surgery and we want to make sure those surgeries don’t get delayed.”

Hess says ImpactLife is getting creative in trying to attract more blood donors with some giveaways. Donors who give blood through July 11 will receive a $10 e-gift card when they donate blood at any of the donor centers or mobile blood drive locations. A weekly drawing is also starting where three donors will have a chance to win a $500 gift card.

Memorial Health Systems announced Tuesday that blood drives are reopening at each of its five hospitals in Central Illinois, including at Passavant Area Hospital where a public blood drive will be held in August.

For more information on donating blood, where blood drives are being held, or to register to donate, visit ImpactLife (formerly Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center) at