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Central Pa. is facing ‘severe shortage’ of blood supplies, organizations warn

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    HARRISBURG, PA (WPMT) — Some Pennsylvania hospitals may be facing a new threat: a severe shortage of blood supplies.

In Central Pennsylvania, more than 600 blood drives have been canceled resulting in a loss of over 11,000 blood donations since March, according to the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank (CPBB).

The CPBB said its blood supply is at a historic low–something they have not seen in more than 30 years.

“This is the most severe shortage we have ever experienced as the local blood supplier,” said Jay Wimer, Director of Community Relations for the CPBB.

Now that hospitals are resuming elective surgeries and the state is reopening, demand is spiking. However, the rate of donations has yet to bounce back. The CPBB needs to collect 200 units of blood a day to keep up with local demand. On average, they are seeing less than half of those donations on a daily basis.

“But blood centers across the nation are experiencing the same exact phenomenon,” added Wimer. “So we’re unable to get blood and blood components from some other blood centers. We haven’t seen an emergency like this in a really long time.”

The American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region typically sees a decline of blood donations during the summer months. However, the threat of COVID-19 has created new obstacles to donating blood.

“We did implement new safety processes. We have temperature takes at every entry point for all blood donation sites. We also are social-distancing the beds, which means sometimes fewer donors are able to come in to donate,” explained Lisa Landis, Regional Director of Marketing and Communications for the American Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania.

Blood donations cannot be stockpiled because of their relatively short shelf life. Red blood cells last for 42 days and every two seconds across the country someone is in need of blood, Landis said.

The Red Cross has started testing donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies. Donors can access their results within 7 to 10 days by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

“It is important to share, too, that it’s not a diagnostic test,” stated Landis. “If you’re not feeling healthy or not feeling well, we encourage you to stay home. Defer for 28 days. What this can tell you is if your body has produced those antibodies.”

Scheduling an appointment to donate blood is strongly encouraged to avoid potentially long wait times.

Contact the Central PA Blood Bank:

Phone: 1-800-771-0059



To schedule an appointment with the Red Cross, visit their website or find a blood drive on their app.

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Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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