Blood centers say there’s an urgent need for donors

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN- Blood centers across the state are urgently asking for more donors. The Indiana Blood Center said its inventory is critically low, dipping below a one day supply at times, and that it needs thousands of donors over the next few days to keep up its supply.

The center "called critical" Wednesday. It said it's an official designation that allows it to ask for immediate support.

"The blood supply in Indiana remains in pretty rough shape," Andrea Fagan, with the Indiana Blood Center, said.

Fagan said the threshold is set by industry accepted standard, less than a two day supply. The Indiana State Department of Health said its involvement is that it requires it be notified of a shortage per statute.

"The 4th of July holiday really hurt us this year," Fagan said.

In addition to notifying the state, the center also enlisted the help of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch  in a public service announcement.

"Hospitals and patients need blood every day. Right now the blood supply is dangerously low," Crouch said in the recording.

Fagan said the center has up to 2,500 units on an average day, but Thursday morning it had only 510.

After putting out the alert, the center said it saw about 400 people by late afternoon Thursday but needs 700 a day to get the inventory back to where it needs to be.

"Heaven forbid we have a major trauma, we're going to have to look elsewhere for those units in the moment and that's not a good space for us to be in," Fagan said.

Fagan said not all of the center's more than 30 customers got all the units they were expecting, but the hospitals CBS4 spoke with said they weren't experiencing a shortage.

Saint Vincent Hospital said it's not experiencing a shortage since it has two suppliers. Eskanazi Health said it's not having issues, but because it's a level one trauma center it may be presented with more blood than other hospitals.

"That's a great comment for them to make that they're fine right now, but it's a very thin razor edge that can change in a moment's notice," Fagan said.

The Indiana Blood Center is not alone in its struggle. The American Red Cross, which has a national inventory system for its blood supply, said it has a national shortage. It put out an emergency call for donors, something an Indiana spokeswoman said is a proactive step during a time donations usually take a drastic dip.

"So that we don't get to a point where we are scrambling for blood donations because the need is certainly constant," Duchess Adjei said.

The American Red Cross said it has about 61,000 fewer donations than needed nationally. Adjei said the organization put out an emergency appeal over the winter as well, and ran into the same problem last summer.

Fagan said the Indiana Blood Center had to call critical last summer as well, but said it is not a frequent occurrence. In an emergency situation, it could look outside Indiana to supplement inventory.

If you'd like to learn more about donating blood, you can see times and locations for the Indiana Blood Center here and for the American Red Cross here.

Fagan said they're hopeful if they see enough donors Friday, the center's supply will be in good shape.

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