Flu season could worsen US blood shortage, donation centers warn

A spike in the number of flu cases could make the nationwide blood shortage even more severe, representatives from the American Red Cross and Blood Assurance warned, according to News10 ABC, an Albany, N.Y-based affiliate. 

The CDC has warned of the potential for a severe flu season this year. Sherri McKinney, regional director of communications for the American Red Cross, told News10 ABC "We usually see a decrease during flu season with donations, because of course, folks are either not healthy or trying to avoid getting the flu. But right now, the concern is that if we see that decline with flu season on top of our already emergency blood shortage that we're having throughout the nation, this could truly become even more dire than it already is."

Ms. McKinney said the Red Cross needs donations of all blood products, including whole blood platelets and plasma. She said hospitals around the country are reconsidering performing surgeries if they're not "absolutely necessary."

Ted Kieffler, MD, the regional medical director for Blood Assurance, a regional blood center that serves healthcare facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina, told News10 ABC that they're also concerned about flu season because older people tend to donate more often than younger groups, especially for platelet donations. 

"They’re really the foundation for our continuous platelet supply. And if there's a bad flu season, again, the older population is going to be impacted a little bit more. And that’s really going to impact our platelet numbers," Dr. Kieffler told News10 ABC

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