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Blood Supply Shortage Causing Concern As Memphians Get Out More During the Summer

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Across the nation and here in the Mid-South, there’s a concerning blood shortage according to the American Red Cross.

This shortage of blood can have deadly consequences. The American Red Cross is sounding the alarm about an on-going blood shortage they call “severe.”

“It is dire because people have been kind of in their homes and not mobile and now we’re getting out,” John Brown, Executive Director American Red Cross Mid-South Chapter said.

John Brown, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Mid South Chapter says the blood shortage was made much worse with cancelled blood drives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brown says the blood shortage is hitting Memphis hard.

“It puts lives in jeopardy and I know of a friend who lost his grandfather because of that,” Brown said. “They couldn’t find his blood type.”

The Red Cross says they’ve distributed 75,000 more blood products than expected over the past 3 months.

In Memphis, occupancy in the ICU has remained over 90 percent despite decreasing COVID-19 cases as the public starts going back outdoors during the summer months.

“During the summer time, people are really mobile,” Brown said. “They’re really getting out and enjoying outdoors and things like that. Accidents happen. So you can imagine that being multiplied this year with things opening back up, people really wanting to get active.”

During June Pride month, there has been a renewed national push to open blood donations to gay men who have historically been prohibited from donating.

In April 2020, the Federal Drug Administration lowered the eligibility for men who have sex with other men from 1-year of abstinence to three months after pressure from the US Senate and amid a worsening blood supply issue.

“We need to serve everybody,” Brown said. “That’s what it’s all about. So yeah we need to keep being on the forefront of having that discussion about how healthy can we get a person to donate, opening up the doors to donate.”

Brown says it’s up to Memphians to help donate blood and alleviate a problem made more critical with several large hospital networks in Memphis.

“Blood does save lives, blood is medicine,” Brown said.

To find out when and where you can help out and donate blood, click here: Redcross.org/blood

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