The American Red Cross declared a national blood shortage last week, and Oklahomans are now stepping up to help by donating blood.
On Friday, Tulsa's Ascension St. John Medical Center held a community blood drive. About 75-percent of donors who signed up work for the healthcare system while about 25-percent are from outside. The hospital said it's the best turnout it's had since before the pandemic with all 72 appointments booked.
One person who showed up to donate is Steven Stubblefield. "[I'm] trying to do my part, and I've heard that they've had shortages right now." Stubblefield works from home for the healthcare system but drove in just to donate. "I haven't donated in quite a while, so it seemed like a good time."
His donation comes as the United States faces its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Fortunately, in Oklahoma, it's not as severe as in other states.
"We need blood more than ever," said Jordan Edwards with the American Red Cross. She said donations first go to local hospitals that have contracts with the Red Cross, and after that, they go all over. Right now, Type O positive and negative are the most needed along with plasma. "We use those a lot in emergency car crashes, women in labor having complications." The blood is also needed to help cancer patients and people with other conditions.
The shortage is now forcing some doctors to decide who will get transfusions or must wait.
"We had two surgeons donating [earlier today]. They were saying, 'You know, we need this product to do our job. We desperately need blood to do the surgeries that we're doing," added Ron Tremblay who works for Ascension St. John.
The shortage is not just being blamed on the pandemic, but also winter weather and busy holiday schedules. And since blood can't be manufactured or stockpiled, some hospitals now have just a one-day supply, making Friday's donations all the more important.
"I would encourage other people to do the same," said Stubblefield.
If you'd like to donate to the American Red Cross, click here.