Blood donation organizations address frustration to make appointments during hospitals' dire need

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jan 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 16:16:22-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Hospitals across the country are trying to manage their blood products daily to avoid having to cancel surgeries.

"This is the lowest that the blood supply has been in a decade. It's dangerous," said Dawn Kaiser, area vice president for Versiti, a blood collection organization, like the American Red Cross, that recognizes the urgency at hospitals to build up their donor supplies.

But even those who donate blood regularly are finding it difficult to make an appointment.

"I couldn't find a place to give blood," Ceci Marlow told 7 Action News Friday.

Marlow, who lives in Rochester Hills, was watching Action News Thursday as area doctors discussed the dire need for donations.

But Marlow couldn't find an appointment in the next two weeks, even when she broadened the location area on the website for the Red Cross.

Versiti and the Red Cross are both experiencing staffing issues and at the same time, trying to make up for the amount of blood they would usually collect at large donation drives but cannot because of the pandemic.

The blood donation organizations are urging people to take the next available appointments.

"If you want to donate today and there are no available appointments, look at next week. We will need blood next week. We'll need blood next month. We need blood every day," Kaiser said.

The mass shooting at Oxford High School in November highlights the need to be ready to help an unusually high number of trauma victims at once.

A spokesperson for the Red Cross said they are also experiencing a plasma shortage.

Donating blood takes about an hour and donating plasma can take a few hours, but both are needed for patients battling cancer and other illnesses.

Eager to donate blood in the next two weeks, Marlow, who had never heard of Versiti until Friday, was able to make an appointment for Sunday.

Kaiser said Versiti does take walk-in appointments, but that might involve a donor waiting.

Versiti is also giving $25 gift cards to anyone who is a first-time donor or a first-time donor with them.

You can make an appointment to donate through Versiti or the Red Cross by visiting their websites:

"If you've had COVID or a positive test for COVID, it's a 14-day deferral from the time of the positive test or the resolution of symptoms," said University of Michigan Health Dr. Robertson Davenport. "If you've had an exposure but you've not had a positive test or you're not sick, you can donate."