Blood shortage could be crisis

For the organizations whose job it is to keep up the blood supply, there’s no way around it: Blood drives are their lifeblood.

And right now, like so many other things negatively affected by COVID-19, that lifeblood is at risk.

Jan Hale, Red Cross of Oklahoma spokeswoman, said so many drives are being canceled due to coronavirus precautions that the state is facing a critical blood shortage.

“One of our concerns is we don’t want to have another health crisis on top of the crisis we have already,” she said, adding that the organization is calling on donors to help out.

As of Thursday, some 4,500 Red Cross blood drives had been canceled nationally, which translates to around 150,000 lost donations. And those numbers are only expected to grow.

“We’ve lost a little over 200 units in the state,” Hale said. “We haven’t seen as many as some of the harder-hit states, but we expect it to get worse.”

She said about 80% of Red Cross donations come from drives held at sites such as workplaces, college campuses and schools — all of which have been affected by the virus.

Oklahoma Blood Institute officials say hundreds of OBI blood drives have been canceled around the state since the coronavirus outbreak began.

“It’s hard to assess the exact number at this time because it constantly changes, with cancellations coming in frequently,” said Heather Browne, OBI spokeswoman.

— Tim Stanley

World Staff Writer

Tim Stanley