NASHVILLE, TN (WKRN) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning about a potential spike in flu cases this year, and it could exacerbate an already dire nationwide blood shortage.
Sherri McKinney, a regional director of communications for the American Red Cross in Tennessee, said the shortage of blood products is already having an impact.
“We do need all blood products, whole blood platelets, plasma, you name it,” she said. “There’s a shortage across the nation that’s causing hospitals to actually reconsider doing surgeries if they’re not absolutely necessary.”
McKinney added that donations by those who are sickle cell carriers are also very needed right now. Platelet donations are also in short supply. These blood products are used in emergency situations and for cancer treatments.
According to McKinney, this flu season has the potential to make things worse.
“We usually see a decrease during flu season with donations because of course, folks are either not healthy or trying to avoid getting the flu,” she said. “But right now, the concern is that if we see that decline with flu season on top of our already emergency blood shortage that we’re having throughout the nation, this could truly become even more dire than it already is.”
Dr. Ted Kieffer, a regional medical director at Blood Assurance in Tennessee, said that another reason they are concerned about flu season is that because older age groups tend to donate more often than younger groups, especially when it comes to platelet donations. If they are hard hit by the flu, there will be less blood to go around.
“They’re really the foundation for our continuous platelet supply. And if there’s a bad flu season, again, the older population is going to be impacted a little bit more,” he said. “And that’s really going to impact our platelet numbers.”
Kieffer also said that donations from all blood types are necessary. “We don’t care what blood type you are, we’ll find a use for you,” he said.