COVID-19, winter weather leads to rise in blood donor cancellations, critically low supplies

Jan 12, 2022

COVID-19 and the winter weather are taking a major toll on the nation’s blood supply and that shortage is being felt close to home.

Tennessee-based Blood Assurance, which supplies TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green, had more than 50 blood drive cancellations last week. That resulted in more than 800 units of blood not reaching patients in hospitals.

Blood Assurance's Public Relations Specialist Max Winitz says O-type blood donors are especially needed.

“If you have O-negative blood, you’re a universal donor and your blood can go to anybody. If you’re O-positive, your blood can go to any type of positive blood," explained Winitz. "But right now, we have less than a two-day supply of just about every type of blood across the board.”

While the current rise in COVID-19 cases related to the Omicron variant had led to increased blood drive cancellations, Winitz says the nearly two-year pandemic has had a long-term impact on blood supplies.

“I can tell you our chief medical officer, over the past year, she had to reach out to our hospitals fives times to recommend they not do elective surgeries because the blood supply has been that low," stated Winitz.

According to America's Blood Centers, there’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood, and anyone can donate regardless of their vaccination status, provided they meet the normal criteria for giving blood. 

Blood Assurance has two mobile drives coming up this week in Bowling Green. The first one is Thursday, Jan. 13, at Vision Source on New Towne Drive from 11:00 a.m-4:00 p.m. A second opportunity to donate blood will come Friday, Jan. 14, at First Baptist Church on East 12th Avenue from 10:00 a.m-3:00 p.m. 

Walk-ins will be accepted, but appointments are encouraged online at www.bloodassurance.org/schedule.

The blood bank is taking measures to help replenish the supply by opening its brick and mortar locations on the weekends and enticing donors with financial incentives. Individuals who donate whole blood will receive a $10 Amazon gift card, while those who donate double red cells, platelets or plasma, will receive a $20 Amazon gift card.