Illinois facing 'critical shortage of blood,' centers say

Updated 6/22/2020 4:17 PM

The Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers put out a plea Monday for organizations to host blood drives in light of what it called "a critical shortage of blood in Illinois."

There are two reasons for the shortage, according to Margaret Vaughn, the coalition's government affairs director.


She said typically 60% of donations come from off-site blood drives, but drives normally hosted by businesses are not being held because employees are still working from home.

Also, demand for blood has spiked due to the May return of elective surgeries coupled with a surge of patients who put off needed surgeries for months because of COVID-19 concerns.

"Now, demand is sky high because the people who put off treatment for three months are sicker," Vaughn said. "There is a backlog with all these cases. There is concern with how they're going to get through the rest of the summer. It's not unique to Illinois. They are in this mess all over the country. We really want to regroup now."

Vaughn urged civic groups, churches and organizations that normally host blood drives to remember blood collection is considered an "essential service" and can still take place despite limits on gatherings.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Health have created strict guidelines to allow public off-site blood collection. The protocol includes scheduled appointments, social distancing, additional cleaning and temperature reading prior to entrance.

Three weeks ago, Vaughn put out a call for state legislators to hold blood drives. She said 35 have done so, some more than once.

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