KINGSPORT - Critical blood shortages during the recent holiday season have begun to subside, but Marsh Regional Blood Center representatives say the center continues to experience challenges in several areas.
"Many generous individuals have sacrificed an hour of their time to donate blood at Marsh collection centers since the beginning of the year, and we'd like to thank every one of those donors. They have helped ease our immediate needs," said Karen West, MRBC's manager.
But despite the fact that local residents have responded and donations are slowly increasing, recent demands for blood across the region have continued to rise at an even higher rate, said West.
This places constant strain on blood supplies, especially for certain types of blood.
Currently, Marsh's supplies of both O negative and A negative blood are at very low levels, with the number of units of O negative blood dropping into single digits during the past week.
As of Friday, MRBC was 75th on the national list of donor centers waiting to purchase blood from other sources, if necessary. Blood shortages have even led some centers, including Marsh, to consider further extending donation hours during evenings or weekends.
Another concern is that confusion over TRALI (transfusion-related acute lung injury) complications in regard to female donors may have impacted blood donations.
"Information about TRALI released by other organizations earlier this year has been a source of significant confusion," West said. "Concerns over TRALI have not been completely assessed by national regulatory agencies, and any changes that may be made in the future will only affect donations of plasma-related products, such as platelets. Blood donations by females will not be affected in any way, other than the fact that they will become even more important as we go forward."
West encourages all individuals who believe they may be eligible for blood donation to visit their nearest collection center or mobile blood drive. Consistent donations by healthy individuals will continue to be the only source of relief for the challenges faced by Marsh and other independent regional blood centers across the nation, she said.
Marsh Regional Blood Center is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and is a federally inspected, independent regional blood center serving 17 medical facilities in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Collection centers are located in Kingsport at 102 E. Ravine Road, Suite 200, and in Bristol at 1 Medical Park Blvd. on the Main Floor of Bristol Regional Medical Center.
For more information about Marsh Regional Blood Center or your eligibility to donate blood call 224-5888.