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Blood donation centers face critical shortage of supply

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 17:50:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Summer is usually a rough time for blood donations, but this year, across the county, donation centers are desperately trying to keep up with demand.

Every empty chair at the Kentucky Blood Center is one less donation that could save up to three lives.

Mandy Brajuha, Vice President of External Relations for the Kentucky Blood Center says it's been an uncomfortable place to be in.

"Unfortunately, right now, you know, the demand is really outpacing the supply," said Brajuha.

The Kentucky Blood Center is the largest independent collector in the state. They supply blood to 90 different counties and 70 different hospitals.

"We tell people all the time if blood is not on the shelves at the hospital when a patient needs it, that's an issue, and our job is to make sure the blood is on the shelf of the hospital. Whenever a patient needs it," said Brajuha.

Right now their supply shelves are low.

"At best, we're living kind of day to day with a half-day supply of blood, which is not where we want to be. Normally we prefer to have about three days' supply of blood on our shelves," said Brajuha.

Brajuha says the center always struggles in the summer because places that normally host blood drives, like schools and businesses didn't have as many as normal due to the pandemic.

Now coming out of the pandemic, they're not having mobile drives at the rate they typically did.

Tiffany Taylor with the Red Cross says it's a nationwide problem of increased demand.

"The reason being is the number of trauma cases, organ transplants, and elective surgeries have risen and depleted the nation's blood inventory," said Taylor. "We know that many of our cities and our states are opening back up. Many people have recently been vaccinated and are feeling comfortable about scheduling some of their elective surgeries that perhaps they've put off during the pandemic when there was not a vaccine readily available."

Taylor says there's no clear date on when the shortage will let up.

To try to motivate donors the Red Cross is giving out Amazon gift cards and free gas.

The Kentucky Blood Center is giving out hats, and two free cars.

They hope the incentives help because lives are depending on it.