• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Shortage of blood platelets impacts medical treatments due to lack of donors

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

May 23, 2022

Ongoing since the pandemic, a shortage of blood platelets is reaching critical levels as deliveries are rationed between local hospitals.

Bloodworks Northwest, a blood bank and medical research institute headquartered in Seattle, is unable to send full orders of platelets to cancer and surgical centers because there are not enough donors. The medical laboratory said type O positive, O negative and platelet donations were dangerously low.

Platelets help form blood clots, and Dr. Sandyha Panch of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center says that if the shortage continues, it could force changes in cancer treatments.

“Right now, we’re giving half units to patients, and maybe saving the full units of platelets for people who are actively bleeding,” Panch said.

Shortage of PNW blood platelets no longer ‘critical’, but 2,000 donations still needed

Platelet rationing could also lead to delays in elective surgeries at local hospitals.

As blood banks in western Washington continue to face an ongoing shortage of blood, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph is calling for more donations.

“It is very worrying. We don’t know when the next person will get sick or there will be some kind of tragic accident,” Ralph said. “These are the things that we can’t plan for, so we have to make sure the supply is there for when those things happen.”

Ralph, a cancer survivor, used her platform and donation to highlight the need to have enough blood on hand, especially in an emergency.

Bloodworks Northwest has joined with 30 other blood centers across the country to organize the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps. This is the first partnership in the country to ensure the consistency of the local blood supply.

The collective has pledged to prepare for mass transfusion disasters by collecting additional units for an emergency reserve.

Most recently, the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps sent supplies of blood to Kentucky after tornadoes hit in December 2021. The organization also shipped boxes of red blood cells for trauma care to eight remaining shooting victims. at a school in Michigan in December 2021.

The regional blood supply hovers around a one-to-two-day limit, according to Bloodworks Northwest. Washington and Oregon need about 1,000 donors a day to maintain a secure supply.