[City Pages, March 18, 2020] In the Minnesota-Dakotas region, 80 Red Cross blood drives—the equivalent of 2,500 donations—have been canceled.
Yet the need for blood is constant. Every community has cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who can’t make their own platelets and require regular transfusions to avoid life-threatening hemorrhages, such as bleeding in the brain.
Dr. Lauren Anthony, Allina Health System’s laboratory medical director, says hospitals have the most critical need for platelets, which have a shelf life of just three days after staff completes all the testing required for them. Red blood cells, while also perishable, can be stockpiled in refrigerators for weeks.
“What that means is if there aren’t enough donors going in today for platelet donation, we’ll have a critical shortage in two to three days because that’s when the supply would be felt. It’s very short,” she says.
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