Severe Blood Shortage: Blood Donors Urgently Needed

From Michigan’s Region 1 Trauma Network

Why is there a blood shortage at this time?

Trauma centers in Michigan, and across the U.S., are currently facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate and to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

As the coronavirus pandemic escalated here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations also grew at an alarming rate. Blood centers in Michigan – including the American Red Cross, the Versiti Blood Center of Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center (UPRBC) – have issued urgent calls for blood donors to help relieve the blood supply emergency. The blood shortage is so dire it could mean a crisis for Michigan communities if unrelieved.

How great is the need for donated blood in Michigan right now?

According to Todd Kulman, spokesman for Michigan’s Red Cross Chapter, the Red Cross needs to collect about 700 blood donations a day to keep hospitals stocked. The Versiti Blood Center of Michigan needs about 560 blood donations a day, according to Zachary Warren, Communications Specialist for Versiti.

To date, nearly, 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at these locations.

Versiti also reports donations are down more than 40 percent in the first quarter alone, compared to a typical year. This is a reduction of nearly 20,000 units of blood. “As more people are getting vaccinated and getting out of their homes, attention has shifted away from blood donation,” said Dr. Dan Waxman, vice president of transfusion medicine and senior medical director at Versiti. “On top of that, drives at schools and businesses, which are typically Versiti’s largest source of blood donations this time of year, have been canceled. All of this is creating a crisis situation – a shortage of much-needed blood.”

In the upper peninsula, the UPRBC is currently experiencing a critical need for O Negative, B Negative, A Negative, A Positive, and AB Positive blood types. “This blood shortage impacts 13 U.P. hospitals and the safety of patients,” the Facebook post from the UPRBC reads. “Healthy, eligible donors are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.”

How and why does the blood shortage affect trauma centers?

Right now, hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of trauma cases and emergency room visits. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross reported that red cell demand from hospitals with trauma centers climbed by 10 percent in 2021 – more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide transfusions. Twenty to 40 percent of trauma deaths that occur after hospital admission involve massive hemorrhaging. In these dire circumstances, doctors may need hundreds of blood products to help save a life, depending on the severity of traumatic injuries.

Where and when can you donate blood?

You can donate blood either through a regional blood donation center (where they typically post scheduled hours and make appointments), or through a local mobile drive. You can also search for a donation event by zip code or in a city near you:

Michiganders are urged to avoid being discouraged by wait times or the lack of immediate appointments.


Click HERE to view letter from MTC to Michigan Legislators re: blood shortage.