Blood Shortage Causes Surgery Delays in New England

MONDAY, June 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- A blood shortage has forced some New England hospitals to delay or reschedule surgeries.

The shortage is due to a combination of factors, including the usual summer decline in blood donations, along with a spike in surgeries driven by operations postponed during the coronavirus pandemic, officials say.

"We haven't seen anything like this in about 30 or 40 years at least," Dr. Vishesh Chhibber, director of transfusion medicine at UMass Memorial Health, told the Boston Globe.

While periodic, localized blood shortages are not uncommon, this shortage is "unprecedented in its scope," according to Dr. Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer for the American Association of Blood Banks.

Typically, there's a five-day supply of blood of all types nationwide, Red Cross of Massachusetts spokesperson Kelly Isenor said. But at the moment, there's only a half-day supply of urgently needed type O blood.

"It's going out faster than it's coming in," Isenor said.

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