‘Serious’ blood shortage prompts donation centers to call for arms

Clentin Martin was found where he usually is every 56 days or so – giving blood.

“I always thought it was an obligation to do it,” said Martin, 74, during a donation to the American Red Cross blood drive at St. Bruno Catholic Church in Greensburg. . “It’s something that everyone needs.

Now as much as ever.

The Red Cross is experiencing a “serious shortage of blood,” the organization said. Vitalant, who supplies blood to UPMC and Allegheny Health Network hospitals, said his blood supply was half of what it should be.

“We prefer to have about four days of blood supply,” Vitalant spokeswoman Kristen Lane said. “This is especially important just before a holiday weekend to take care of all scheduled and emergency surgeries.”

Vitalant was reduced to a two-day supply of Type O blood on Tuesday.

“When it comes to trauma, type O blood is really important and can be accepted by anyone,” Lane said.

“This is a serious shortage, and each of us can play a role in helping others, whether it is a trauma victim or a cancer patient,” said Lisa Landis , spokesperson for the Red Cross. “It only takes an hour of your time to make a difference.”

An insufficient blood supply can have a devastating effect on hospitals, which may find it difficult to properly treat trauma patients, provide blood transfusions and perform elective surgeries, said Cletus McConville, Cross team leader. -Red which oversees Westmoreland, Fayette and Armstrong counties.

Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Jeffrey Hornung has been a convalescent covid plasma donor since December after having covid in September 2020.

The Red Cross has reported a 10% increase in requests for blood from trauma centers since 2019.

Several factors work against the blood centers.

First, the covid-19 pandemic has caused a feeling of reluctance among donors, according to the donation centers. But, according to Vitalant and the Red Cross, it is not possible to spread or contract covid-19 by donating or receiving blood. A person does not have to be vaccinated against covid-19 to donate blood.

Jeffrey Hornung, from Hampton, said covid was the reason he started donating plasma. Hornung contracted covid in September and decided to donate after hearing about the benefits of covid survivors donating plasma to help covid patients.

“I received the vaccine in April,” Hornung said. “I hadn’t had a reason to go back and give back. Vitalant contacted me to ask if I was ready to make a new donation. They need donors. I will continue to donate every three to four weeks.

Second, it’s summer. It is not uncommon for donors to decline during the summer months. Lane said 20% to 30% of Vitalant donors are from high school and college students, who are not normally in session during the summer.

“Now that Allegheny, Westmoreland and other counties are reopening their doors (from the pandemic) people are out and going on vacation and not thinking about donating,” Lane said as he stood. at Vitalant’s Fox Chapel / Harmar location. “We never want to get to the point where we have to tell our hospitals we don’t have enough blood. ”


Jordan Schmitt | Tribune-Review

Marianne Anzovino waits to donate blood at Saint-Bruno Church on Monday.

Martin said he started donating in his early twenties while working as an administrator for the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.

“I realize that not everyone is able to do this,” said Martin, chairman of the South Greensburg board. “But it’s a good way to help fellow Americans.”

Marianne Anzovino said she has been donating for more than 30 years, having made her debut while attending blood drives by the Greensburg Fire Department.

“I always felt great when I did it,” said Anzovino, general manager of the Lynch Field Aerobic Center. “People don’t realize the clinical need for blood. ”

On Tuesday, this need was demonstrated in black and white.

“When I walked in, I looked at the printed appointment sheets to find out who was going to donate that day,” Hornung said. “I was a little shocked at how empty they were.”

Jordan Schmitt is a digital producer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Jordan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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