Low Blood Supply Impacting Patients

Monday, December 4th 2006, 10:43 am
By: News On 6

By now, most in eastern Oklahoma are able to get around on area roads, store shelves are being restocked and some of that heavy snow is melting away. But there is a life-threatening impact from last week's storm, which is still being felt.

It's Oklahoma's dangerously low blood supply. Clinic workers say donors are needed now.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says the storm’s aftermath kept many people indoors. It also kept shelves empty at the Oklahoma Blood Institute. Mobile blood drives were canceled, at a time of year already hardest on the state's supply. Sara Wilson with OBI: "we really, really need everyone to donate now, it is pretty significant."

OBI supplies blood products to more than 100 Oklahoma hospitals. The system counts on 800 donated units per day and workers say last Thursday, it was down to 100 across the state, forcing hospitals to dip into the emergency reserve. The most critical and most scarce product, platelets, which after donated, only last five days. Sara Wilson: "right now there are a lot of cancer patients out there counting on platelet donors to keep them alive."

Although the roads are clear now, the storm hit at the same time the platelet supply became dangerously low. When Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers halted traffic on dangerous highways, a rush shipment had to be airlifted. Workers say that situation was quickly resolved, but another crisis could develop. Sara Wilson: “if everyone now that the roads are kind of clear would take just an hour to come by, and sit in these empty chairs here then they could go on about their Christmas shopping." After giving an amazing gift that costs nothing but time.

Although OBI says all donations are greatly appreciated, the Oklahoma Blood Institute is most in need of blood type "O" and platelet donors.