Blood is quite literally the elixir of life.
Every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood and because it cannot be manufactured outside the body and has a limited shelf life, the supply relies on steady donations.
However, throughout the 21 months or so of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining blood supplies has been even more challenging than usual.'
Blood drives were canceled amid social distancing, and when communities reopened, fewer people were willing to give blood. The American Red Cross says donations dropped by 10 percent from August to September 2021, and that blood supplies are at a dangerous low.
Today, we discuss the blood shortage that's occurring around the world, and what consequences we will face, if the situation is left unmitigated.
We're joined by Claudia S. Cohn, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Director of the Blood Bank Laboratory at the University of Minnesota.
1. First of all, as much as we call blood the elixir of life, how are the different components used to save lives?
2. COVID-19 has canceled blood donation drives, campaigns and made people less willing to go out and give blood. In mid-August of this year, the Korean Red Cross reported blood supplies to be "down to 3.2 days worth" compared to "6.5 days worth" in the same time in 2020. How long can blood be stored, and what do these figures mean?
3. How has the donation process affected eligibility for donors and regulations for blood banks?
4. What consequences does blood shortage have on those who need it most?
5. What makes winter a particularly difficult time to secure blood supplies?
6. Can people who've had COVID give blood? What are some common misconceptions people have about giving blood, especially during pandemic times?
7. Adding to the problem of blood shortages, hospitals have had to make adjustments over the last two years to accommodate COVID patients. How has that impacted patients that need transfusion? How about the ripple effect of surgeries being postponed?
8. Even before the pandemic, the blood banking industry had been seeing years of decline in supply. In your view, what are some more long-term changes that need to happen?
Claudia S. Cohn, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Director of the Blood Bank Laboratory at the University of Minnesota. Thank you for your time.