Red Cross: Emergency blood shortage could delay surgeries - WSMV News 4

Red Cross: Emergency blood shortage could delay surgeries

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Blood donations have been so low at Middle Tennessee blood banks recently that a shortage may soon to force doctors to postpone certain surgeries.

Hoping to fix the problem, the American Red Cross is putting out an all-call to donors -- old and new. 

Red Cross representatives said they usually get about 500 donations a day. Recently, however, they've only seen about half of that. 

"We usually have racks upon racks that go all the way to the top [of this cabinet], and we only just have one, said Tiffany Taylor, external communications manager for blood services at the Red Cross.

With this major drop in donations, Taylor said the Tennessee Valley region's supply simply can't keep up with the demand from local hospitals, which includes two Level-1 trauma centers that require a lot of blood to operate.

"There's a possibility that some elective surgeries or even some more serious surgeries could be postponed if the blood is not available," Taylor explained.

The Red Cross called it an emergency shortage, and it's possible Middle Tennessee might not get the blood it needs from other regions.

"At this point, nationally, it's tight," Taylor said.

The organization is depending on regular blood donors like Glennda Dawson to give.

"I work in surgery, and when you need blood there, you need it pretty rapidly -- you know, in case you get into a bad situation," Dawson said. "A lot of times they prepare for that before the surgery starts."

Dawson, who works at Saint Thomas West, said hospitals have emergency blood supplies, but stocking up is not an option since the blood packs are only good for about 40 days. If there are no extra blood packs around, doctors could be forced to cancel procedures. 

"It certainly motivates me to give blood, and I think it should motivate all to give blood," Dawson said.

This summer, Red Cross workers are going out into the community to educate people about the importance of donating blood. Representatives said they are also trying to have better giveaways for donors as well as making donations more convenient.

Red Cross has a mobile check-in system called Rapid Pass that Dawson said saves 10 minutes on your visit.

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