Blood emergency declared in Delaware as supplies hit ‘critically low levels’

The Blood Bank of Delmarva has declared a blood emergency because supplies have fallen below the three-day level of reserves for the 19 hospitals it serves. (Courtesy of Blood Bank of Delmarva)

The Blood Bank of Delmarva has declared a blood emergency because supplies have fallen below the three-day level of reserves for the 19 hospitals it serves. (Courtesy of Blood Bank of Delmarva)

Blood supplies in the Delmarva region are at dangerously low levels, officials said this week in declaring a “blood emergency” and calling for donors so hospitals have enough on to save lives.

The Blood Bank of Delmarva is in the midst of its annual summer blood drive. Donations typically fall at this time of year, and trauma situations tend to increase with more people on the roads.

But the emergency declaration is different, because supplies have fallen below the three-day inventory, officials said.

The blood bank needs a seven-day supply of all blood types to have adequate reserves, and that supply needs continual replenishment, said chief operating officer Michele Hart-Henry.

The blood bank doesn’t declare an emergency unless inventory is at “critically low levels,’’ she said.

“We have fallen below the three-day level, so if one of our hospitals has a major trauma, a patient can go through 70 to 100 units in one day,” she  said. “That could seriously jeopardize the availability of the blood supply for other patients who need it. So this urgent appeal is so we can get those inventories back up to where we need them to be.”

The blood bank has 30 units of Type O-negative blood, which spokesman Tony Prado called the “universal donor” type for red blood cells. That’s less than half the three-day supply, which he said is 70 units. A unit is equivalent to a pint or 16 ounces.

The blood bank currently has 100 units of Type O-positive blood. A three-day supply is 200 units, Prado said. The Blood Bank of Delmarva supplies blood to 19 hospitals throughout Delaware, the Maryland Eastern Shore and the tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It takes at least 350 donors a day to keep supplies of all types at the seven-day level.

“Now more than ever is the time to donate,’’ Hart-Henry said. She suggested “hosting a blood drive, spreading the word, or simply taking an hour of their day to give blood. Delmarva residents can help ensure everyone has access to the life-saving blood they need.”

Hart-Henry stressed that the blood bank has a safety valve in the event of further declines. Their New York bank is available to help in that case, but she said regional banks like to collect and use their own supplies.

The blood bank’s Delaware donor centers are near Stanton, across from Christiana Hospital; Dover; Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; and Salisbury, Maryland.

She encouraged donors to walk in to any of the centers or call 888-8-BLOOD-8 to make an appointment. Donors can also make an appointment online.

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