RI blood supply remains dangerously low; hospitals could soon be wiped out of Type O

Health

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — As the regional supply of blood reaches concerning levels, the Rhode Island Blood Center is sounding the alarm about the need for donors.

The Blood Center is down to a one- to two-day supply for Type O, which signals further shortages leading into Labor Day.

Rhode Island Hospital, the only Level 1 trauma hospital in the state, has been down to less than half of what is needed each day.

“One massive transfusion protocol for one patient can wipe out our entire supply of Type O blood,” said Dr. Stephani Lueckel, a trauma surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital.

Lueckel said a massive transfusion protocol is triggered when a patient is in need of blood in large amounts in a short period of time, often in trauma situations.

Even with plenty of opportunities to donate, blood donations are not keeping pace with the level of need, medical leaders say. As of Aug. 20, Lueckel said the hospital has already seen 70 operative emergencies for the month.

“Massive blood transfusions give us time to find the source and get it under control while keeping up with blood loss. The majority of the time, we are successful,” Lueckel said. “My fellow physicians and I at Lifespan are urging the community to give what we need to save lives.”

Beau Tompkins, senior executive director of the Blood Center and a Type O blood donor, said the need for local donors is more critical now than ever.

“This is a perfect storm causing alarming levels of blood products we supply,” Tompkins said. “We have no buffers for storms, disasters, mass-casualty incidents or even individual patients who may need larger volumes of blood. The situation is similar across the country and the only cavalry coming to help right now are local donors.”

The Blood Center originally anticipated the supply would replenish after residents resumed normal activities, but the spread of the delta variant has interrupted that recovery.

Donations of all blood types are needed, though Type O donors are most critical. Anyone interested in donating blood can schedule an appointment online or by calling (401) 453-8383.

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