CHICAGO (CBS) – The country’s blood supply has been a big concern throughout the pandemic.
This week, the Red Cross declared a national blood crisis for the first time. CBS 2 wanted to know how the shortage is affecting Chicago hospitals and patients. CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek has more of the dire outlook for Chicago-area doctors.
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Hospital systems are already under a lot of stress from the ongoing pandemic. This blood shortage only adds to the obstacles they face and many have said they don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.
“Our responsiveness is blunt and it’s severely blunted and we have no contingency plan,” said Dr. Phillip DeChristopher, medical director of the Loyola Blood Bank.
Hospital systems in Chicago and the suburbs are facing a severe blood shortage that many say quickly turned from bad to worse. DeChristopher, who runs Loyola’s blood bank, said the Red Cross had to start allocating in-demand blood – O in particular – last month. But by next week, he expects them to receive less of all kinds of blood.
“We have to start making decisions about the allocation of the blood that we have and it will be very, very difficult decisions and it is not one size fits all,” DeChristopher said.
These tough decisions have already been made. At the University of Chicago Medical Center, trauma surgeon Dr Priya Prakash said the blood shortage meant rationing.
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“I haven’t been in a situation where I haven’t been able to donate blood to a patient who absolutely needs blood,” Prakash said. “We’re very concerned about making sure people get the treatment they absolutely need. “
The same goes for Northwestern, according to Dr. Glenn Ramsey.
“Right now we’re getting about half or less of what we would normally get,” Ramsey said. “We also limit transfusions to one unit at a time and then make sure the patient needs another unit before automatically giving two or three units.
At Advocate Aurora, the shortage has forced the hospital to prioritize who is seen when.
2:49 Dr. Stuck “We have had to cancel or postpone some elective procedures because we have to deal with urgent patient care. Trauma patients and maybe sickle cell attacks who just can’t wait, ”said Dr. Stuck.
While none of these hospital systems see the supply problem changing anytime soon, there is some hope. The supply can be increased in one way and only one: eligible donors are rolling up their sleeves to help save lives.
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The American Red Cross has said the number of blood drives has dropped by more than 50% since the start of the pandemic, but there are still plenty of places you can donate, if you’re an eligible donor. Click here for more information on how and where to donate.