Some blood donation drives canceled as Michigan reaches critical supply levels

Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 18:22:21-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Emergency blood shortages continue nationwide including here in Michigan.

In fact, the American Red Cross says it’s the lowest they’ve seen across metro Detroit over a decade. And to make matters worse, in recent weeks, some blood donation drives have been canceled.

Meghan Lehman from American Red Cross says this is due to a lack of phlebotomists among other healthcare workers.

"So that’s what we are dealing with over here in Michigan, in the Detroit area, some staffing shortages," says Meghan Lehman, Regional Communications Director, American Red Cross - Michigan Region.

An avid donor, Craig Gittleman’s blood donation appointment was canceled 4 times.

"It's frustrating because I’d be getting texts and calls from the Red Cross on a regular basis telling me how much they need the blood and I say hey, I’m trying to give blood and it kept getting canceled," says Craig Gittleman.

The problem started due to COVID-19 induced restrictions that resulted in blood donation drives being postponed and also this year more elective surgeries are taking place especially since last year they were all canceled because of the pandemic.

According to Dr. Fletcher at Beaumont Health, at present blood types, O and B are at critically low levels forcing surgeries to be handled as triage.

"We review our surgical schedule for the week, every week, and determine and sometimes based on blood type in our inventory, which cases can be postponed," says Craig Fletcher, MD, System Medical Director, Blood Bank, Beaumont Health.

With the need to donate blood greater than ever, American Red Cross has also incentivized it by giving donors an amazon gift card as well as a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.

"Really the biggest incentive for giving blood is knowing that you are part of saving a life. Every blood donation can impact up to 3 lives," says Meghan Lehman, Regional Communications Director, American Red Cross - Michigan Region.

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