Valley hospitals may delay surgeries due to extreme blood shortage

In some cases, hospital staff are having to donate blood themselves so they can continue treatment.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Valley hospitals may delay surgeries due to blood shortage
A nationwide blood shortage is hitting the Valley hard, and surgeries are at stake.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A nationwide blood shortage is hitting the Valley hard.

The Central California Blood Center is not seeing the supply it would typically receive from blood drives events that were canceled due to the pandemic.

"I have not seen supplies that low in a very long time," says Deanette Sisson, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Agnes Hospital.

The effects are being felt at St. Agnes Hospital in northeast Fresno.

"We were prepared to delay surgeries on Monday if we hadn't been able to get a little more of our blood products because it was so tight," says Sisson.

Dr. James Davis, chief of surgery at UCSF Fresno, says the hospital has seen a rise in trauma patients amid a decrease in donations.

"It's an ongoing sometimes hour-by-hour process to make sure that the supplies on hand are adequate for what you are doing," he says.

Typically, the hospital has between 80-100 units in-house at any given time.

Right now, there's about 30 units.

"We could literally have people die because we run out of blood," says Davis.

St. Agnes and UCSF Fresno have turned to pop-up blood drives at their hospitals to collect blood from their own staff.

Dr. Davis says three people can be helped with a single donation.

Despite COVID concerns, healthcare professionals assure people that it is safe to give blood.

Even if you've had COVID, you can still donate.

"We do ask that you are at least 28 days of being symptom-free if you have had it before," says Davis.

This week at the Clovis Rodeo, a blood drive is underway Monday and Tuesday to help ease the shortage in the Valley.

"These are your friends, your neighbors, people you know who might need your donation," Davis says.

The blood center is asking for all blood types - especially O.