The need for blood donations in Central Illinois has reached a dire level, bringing administrators from supposed competitors together in urging the public to help.
Health leaders from Memorial Health, HSHS of Illinois, the SIU School of Medicine, and others joined Impact Life last week to stress the importance of donating blood as the current supply is reaching dire levels.
V.P. of Donor Relations for Impact Life, Amanda Hess says blood is not something that can be manufactured, it has to come from other people
“Blood has to come from volunteer blood donors, it has to come from our communities. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been challenged. Our blood centers locally, as well as nationally, strive for a five-day supply of life-saving blood on our shelves, and we’ve had chronic situations where we have a three-day supply. In fact just this morning, our O negative red blood cells are at a one-point five-day supply. This is a concerning situation for us, for our hospitals, and for our communities in general.”
Hess says Impact Life has had weeks of low donations due to a combination of factors including spikes in cold and flu sickness, Covid infections, and winter weather all keeping donors from giving blood.
Chief Physician Executive of HSHS Illinois, Dr. Gurpreet Mander spoke to the many needs of a strong blood supply, including trauma victims, surgical needs, blood loss during childbirth as well as dialysis patients. Dr. Mander says no one knows when they will be in an emergency and need blood, and there are more medical needs for blood than most people might think.
Dr. Linda Jones with Memorial Health says one of those critical needs for blood each day that is not top of mind for most people is in the treatment of cancer patients. She says at all five Memorial Health hospitals including Jacksonville Memorial, they treat many hundreds of cancer patients who need blood.
“Many cancers cause loss of blood from unusual bleeding when cancers invade organs and blood vessels. But also the impact of treatment is very serious. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can all impact the ability of the body to produce new blood cells. And transfusions are frequently given to treat new patients. Radiation will impact the ability of the bone marrow to produce new blood cells. And also requires that the body be heavily oxygenated so that the radiation works well. So it’s important that we keep the red blood cell elevated during radiation treatment.
Dr. Jones says chemotherapy also impacts the body’s ability to create blood cells so their patients are heavily dependent on blood donations to replace the cells and keep them safe from anemia, infection, and bleeding.
Jim Watts who is Manager of Donor Relations for Impact Life in Central Illinois says as the sole provider of blood to all Memorial Health, HSHS, and other hospitals throughout Central Illinois, simply put, “we need help” and more blood on the shelves.
Watts says the blood center needs all blood types and is asking the public to please make an appointment today at bloodcenter.org. You can also call toll-free at 800-747-5401 to find a blood drive or donation center near you.
Watts says the need for blood in Central Illinois is critical at this time.