Donate Blood Today
By Dennis Williams, M.D., Medical Director, Kentucky Blood Center
As anyone reading this knows, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly depleted the national blood supply. Collections dwindled early in the pandemic as donor turn out plummeted. Fortunately, this was balanced by a decrease in blood utilization partly the result of hospitals canceling elective procedures to accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients.
More recently, as hospitals have recovered, blood utilization has rapidly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and in some cases even greater. Blood collections, on the other hand, have not completely recovered.
Kentucky Blood Center, which supplies lifesaving blood products to 70+ Kentucky hospitals, including all Lexington-area hospitals, has seen collections drop in 2021 more than 9 percent from 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. A more startling statistic is a 35 percent drop in mobile blood collections. Prior to the pandemic, mobile blood drive provided the majority of the blood products collected by KBC. These drives were happening at high schools, colleges, businesses and community locations throughout the Commonwealth and simply haven’t returned to normal quantity or volume.
Blood shortages during the pandemic are not unique to Kentucky Blood Center. Our fellow nonprofit, community blood centers across the nation are dealing with similar drops in donations and increasingly stressed blood supplies.
We are now approaching the time of year where donor turnout naturally declines. Winter weather, holiday travel and cold and flu season keep many regular donors away from donor centers and blood drives. With an already stressed blood supply, we need blood donors more than ever this holiday season.
Kentucky Blood Center has safely collected blood throughout the pandemic in both donor centers and on mobile drives. Our team always takes pride in keeping blood donors safe and they have implemented additional precautions throughout the pandemic.
What we know moving out of the pandemic is that the world has changed. We know people are more cautious about their interactions and their health. But with no substitute for human blood, we rely every day on volunteer donors putting their trust in our care to make lifesaving donations. We take pride in the work we do to supply Kentucky hospitals and believe that blood donors and blood drives will return to pre-pandemic levels in the months ahead.