Blood Shortage Protocols

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Besides the constant demand, catastrophes happen that prevent donated blood from getting where it's needed. Learn more about backup plans to make sure we don't run out. (KFSN)

A lot of us donate blood ... nearly seven million people do every year. But the demand is overwhelming: someone needs blood in America every two seconds. Besides the constant demand, catastrophes happen that prevent donated blood from getting where it's needed. Learn more about backup plans to make sure we don't run out.

The Red Cross calls Peter Vallans a four-gallon man.

That's how much blood he has regularly donated over the past few years.

Vallans shared "I always thought it's an easy answer for peoples' problems. I mean, you can give blood and save a life and it's replenishable so it's a pretty easy thing to do to help people."

The demand for blood at America's hospitals almost seems overwhelming. At Portland's Oregon health and science university hospital alone, about 33 thousand pints of blood are used every year. But what happens when something terribly goes wrong?

Mick Scanlan, M.D., the Medical Director for Transfusion Medicine Service at Oregon Health & Science University said "The worst problem is there's a transportation impact. An earthquake, a big huge snowstorm where people can't get to their blood center, where airplanes can't land. That's really the big problem. How to deal with that is extremely difficult."

Transfusion experts predict we may soon be able to store precious but perishable blood longer.

"And there are people who are actually trying to freeze dried plasma so it can have a very long shelf life." Said Dr. Scanlan.

But until then, responsible back up plans and generous donors are the mainstays against a catastrophic blood shortage.

Vallans stated, "You realize for people its life or death and it might have been your blood that kept them alive."

Although nearly four in every ten Americans are eligible to donate blood, the Red Cross estimates less than one in ten of us actually does in any given year. O-negative blood type has the most frequent shortages according to Dr. Scanlan.

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