As COVID-19 cases increase due to the omicron variant, fewer and fewer people donate blood. This led to a “national blood crisis” – and Texas is no exception.

On Tuesday, the American Red Cross said up to a quarter of hospital blood needs across the country were not being met, calling it “worst blood shortage in over a decade. “

Dr. Merlyn Sayers, President of Carter Bloodcare in Bedford, KUT’s Texas Standard told blood supplies had reached record levels in North Texas.

“I’ve been involved in blood banking for about 30 years, and I’ve never seen such dire circumstances as today,” Sayers said.

Now Texas hospitals are facing limited supplies for those who need blood, from trauma patients to those battling cancer, and are being forced to make tough choices about who gets blood in a conservation effort. .

Sayers said up to 800 patients urgently need blood every day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He attributed the shortage, in part, to restrictions throughout the pandemic, such as social distancing and school closures, which led to donor hesitation.

On the Gulf Coast, the Texas Medical Center in Houston is seeing a significant drop in blood donations. Cameron Palmer, Community Development Coordinator, said Houston Public Media the center needs at least 1,000 donations a day, but does not meet this target.

“Typically, we like to have about a three-day supply of blood on the shelf,” Palmer said. “Right now we’re at about a one-day supply, and that’s just for any kind of emergency needs that may arise.”

Donation centers have also been forced to cancel or postpone their blood drives due to the Omicron surge and related staffing shortages. South Texas blood banks have been forced to cancel at least eight blood drives with a potential loss of up to 400 donations.

“COVID has disrupted donations in ways we never thought possible,” said Adrienne Mendoza, San Antonio’s vice president of operations. South Texas Blood and Tissue, in an interview with Texas Public Radio.

Mendoza said South Texas Blood & Tissue currently has less than a day’s supply of type O blood available for hospitals.

To attract donors, some donation centers offer incentives. Vitalant, a national blood donation provider with offices in West Texas, recently announced it is offering a $5,000 gift card to people who donate.

For more information on how you can help the blood, go to Anyone can donate, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

In a statement, the Red Cross said that “donations of blood and platelets are essential to help prevent further delays in life-saving medical treatment, and donors of all blood types – especially type O – are invited to make an appointment now”.

Do you have any advice? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at [email protected]

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find these reports useful, consider make a tax deductible donation today. Thank you.