Hospital patients at risk due to lack of blood donors

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center says there's a critically low blood supply

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SAN ANTONIO – Trauma victims, patients undergoing cancer treatments, newborns and their mothers, along with many other patients, could be at risk due to the dangerously low blood supply, according to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.

Administrators said there are not enough blood donations to meet the demand of hospital patients. 

This week, STBTC shared an image of what their blood storage looks like: four full blood collection bags in the middle of empty metal racks. Mary Uhling, a spokesperson for STBTC, said it's an alarming sight that depicts the current dangerously low blood supply.

"Cancer patients need blood to get through chemotherapy. Moms and newborns often need blood. Any surgery patient (needs blood)," Uhling said.

Phlebotomists can attest to blood use this summer increasing faster than it is being donated. If blood supply isn't replenished, hospitals could be forced to postpone medical services, making the community vulnerable to larger trauma events.

"We've reached out to other blood centers but they're doing emergency appeals of their own," Uhling said.

The goal is to have more than 500 blood units a day and 4,100 blood units total by Labor Day weekend. Regular donors are doing their part, but STBTC hopes new donors will be encouraged to support hospital patients.

Jacqueline Molina and her husband, Michael Molina, are aware of the shortage and have made a date night out of their donor trips to STBTC.

"The last time we came was back in July, and we did whole blood then," Jacqueline Molina said. "We got a date night now because we have these free vouchers."

Then there are donors like Carol Evans who visit the donor room twice a month. For medical reasons, Evans can only donate platelets.

"I figure as long as I can keep going and my vein holds out, I'll keep coming," Evans said.

She does her part, however, she still worries for hospital patients who may not have the help they need from their community.

"It only takes a few minutes. If you can't (give) that much out of your time, someday you or a family member may need this," Evans said.

To boost blood supply, STBTC is extending their hours and offering a free movie ticket and meal coupon until the end of the month. All donors must bring their ID. For more information on how to donate, visit the center's website here.

About the Authors:

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.