LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The nationwide blood shortage is impacting hospitals in the Lexington area, as the Kentucky Blood Center “Big Blue Slam” blood drive competition takes place January 24-28.
"We're just frighteningly close to a situation where we wouldn't have enough [blood]," said Andrew Bernard, the Chief Trauma surgeon at University of Kentucky Hospital.
Instead of racks full of blood like they would typically have, Bernard showed LEX 18 their blood bank looking far different. The blood bank likes to have 80 units of the O+ blood type on hand at any given time. When they gave LEX 18 a look, they had just 15. Their supply usually lasts days, unlike the situation right now.
"This is day to day, everyone is relying on the KBC, the KBC is relying on the donors of course,” Bernard said, referring to the Kentucky Blood Center, which is delivering blood to hospitals like UK regularly. They can get blood from the KBC, Bernard said, “but they have to serve everyone in the region.”
The blood shortage is part of a national problem the American Red Cross this month called a “crisis.” Blood donations are down 10% across the country, according to the organization.
"It's been the worst we've seen in about a decade so it's very concerning for us and the hospitals,” said Remy Kennedy, a spokesperson with the Red Cross.
The Red Cross says the pandemic has contributed to the issue, canceling blood drives at schools and colleges in particular, where there has been a 62% drop in donations.
Here in Kentucky, compounding the issue recently has been winter weather, according to Mandy Brajuha, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Blood Center.
Bernard said his colleagues across the country have had difficult discussions about what would happen if the problem gets worse.
"Simply put, if we have an actively bleeding patient who is losing this very precious thing that can only come from another donor and we don't have it, then that person will die."
His message for the public: donate blood.
The Kentucky Blood Center’s “Big Blue Slam” blood drive is taking place until Friday, but Brajuha explained it’s important to donate as much as you can year-round. She said the regulars they have come in help the most when unexpected disasters—like the December tornadoes—strike.
Walk-ins are accepted as space allows, but appointments would are preferred.
You can go to the following locations:
- 3130 Maple Leaf Drive
- 3121 Beaumont Centre Circle
- 5406 Antle Drive
- 12905 Shelbyville Road
- 472 S. Mayo Trail
- 10 Stonegate Centre