LA County Hit Hard by Blood Shortage Amid COVID-19 Surge

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LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles County officials are urging residents to donate blood as the national blood shortage crisis is impacting local hospitals—to the point of prompting an hours-long shutdown of a trauma center by the county’s Department of Health Services earlier this week.

Harbor-UCLA Medical Center’s trauma center had to stop accepting new patients for over two hours on Jan. 10 due to insufficient blood supplies.

“I can’t emphasize enough just how urgent and critical this blood shortage is for L.A. County residents,” said Marianne Gausche-Hill, medical director of the LA County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

Dr. Gausche-Hill also said such a situation where a trauma center must be closed due to blood shortage has never happened in the past 30 years in the county.

Christina Ghaly, director of the health services department, said in a statement, “Closing down a trauma center in middle of a COVID-19 surge — when hospitals and ambulance providers are already struggling and when emergency departments are already strained — can result in dangerous delays to patients in need of urgent lifesaving medical attention.”

Dr. Ghaly urges the public to donate more blood and said it is essential to re-prioritize the current blood supply by Southern California Blood Bank so the blood can be distributed to the local trauma centers. Otherwise, more trauma centers may be forced to close.

To encourage the public to donate blood, American Red Cross is partnering with the National Football League this month to help patients in need.

Anyone who gives blood in January will automatically be entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles next month.

Besides a drawing for the mega event tickets, blood donors will have a chance to win the Big Game at Home package, which includes a laser projector, screen, soundbar, subwoofer, tech support with installation, and a $500 e-gift card.

For more information, please check out the official webpage of the American Red Cross.

Alice Sun

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