Shelves where bags of donated blood should sit lie empty as the Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC) struggles to keep up with demand for blood donations.
“We say that it’s bad. We don’t like it. We’re getting to uncomfortable levels a lot. Now, it’s to a critical level,” said Jennifer Bowman of the RRVBC.
The center’s biggest shortage is of O-negative blood. In fact, it’s so bad they’ve even asked some smaller area hospitals to return some of the O-negative blood they’ve given them.
“We typically need to collect about 25 units of O-negative on an average day,” said Bowman. “We collected 11 yesterday, and we started [the day] with 3.”
Bowman says an increase in trauma cases in Rockford have made the O-negative shortage even more dire than usual. That’s because hospitals use O-negative in emergency situations when they don’t have time to check the patient’s blood type.
“Trauma levels go up during the summer, that’s just a usual thing,” said Bowman. “But we’ve seen a pretty abnormal amount, or a higher amount of traumas in our area. Anytime we’re talking about gunshot victims, car accidents…”
Bowman says all of the O-negative blood left on the shelves has already been claimed by local hospitals, and the demand keeps going up.
“We have stat orders coming in from our hospitals, especially our big Rockford hospitals that see the majority of all the traumas and a lot of the surgeries in the area,” said Bowman.
Bowman says the only way to solve the problem is to get donors in the door.
“You donate blood in about an hour, we take the product, we’re gonna process it, label it, do all that, and it will probably be out the door in less than 48 hours, even shorter. And that is a direct impact on someone who lives right here in the community who’s being treated at a hospital,” said Bowman.