Local hospitals low on blood supplies and operating at near maximum capacities


Photo via BBC

A shortage of blood supplies has left local hospitals at critically low supply and beds at near maximum capacity, setting the stage for a potential crisis.

At Inova, the nonprofit health clinic, there has been a surge of patients that require blood, but a lack of blood in the hospital’s supply. This recent trend isn’t just afflicting Inova either, hospitals across Northern Virginia are also in similar situations. A census on Northern Virginia hospitals revealed “that 90 to 100% of all beds for in-patient care have been filled,” according to Heather Wade, the Donor Recruitment Manager for Inova blood donation services. 

The shortage has been an ongoing issue for months now. The COVID-19 pandemic and continuous influxes of patients have both contributed to the shortage, as well as a general lack of blood donors compared to in the past. 

Graphic via Inova

At Inova, the situation is far from ideal. In fact, the only blood type that the hospital has in their inventory that meets the desired inventory is the A Negative blood type. The situation becomes particularly dire with other blood types. Inova only has 37 O positive units, far from the desired 300. The health clinic is experiencing a vast shortage of blood units in mostly every single blood type.

Several efforts have been in an attempt to increase the number of blood donations. Back in 2020, the shortage forced the FDA to loosen restrictions on donations on men who have sex with other men, also known as MSM. However, the blood shortage still persists, and it is not likely that there will be a return to a state of normalcy in the blood donation landscape until the COVID-19 pandemic has concluded. 

Ultimately, the root cause of this issue is the lack of blood donors in Northern Virginia. The pandemic has been a tough obstacle for both blood donors and hospitals to overcome when it comes to this shortage. Hospitals and communities alike are urging people, both new and past donors to donate blood.

Both Inova blood services and the American Red Cross offer local options for blood donors. In Virginia, you must be 17 or older to donate, but 16 year olds are allowed to donate with signed parental consent. 

Hospitals have been working tirelessly and around the clock throughout this pandemic under a multitude of problems. It is up to us as residents of Northern Virginia to help alleviate any and all stress these hospitals, doctors, and nurses are going through, no matter how small.