Medical community puts out call for blood donors


A University of Michigan doctor is sounding the alarm about a nationwide blood shortage linked to the coronavirus outbreak that has left the university hospital operating with a one-day supply of blood.

Robertson Davenport, professor of pathology and director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine, said blood collection agencies have been diligent about donor screening procedures and safety protocols and that people shouldn’t be afraid to donate.

“The donors are all screened, the staff are all screened. They’ve instituted even beyond the normal hygiene policies for cleaning all the facilities and the equipment,” he said.

U-M is hosting several American Red Cross blood drives over the next few weeks, including:

  • March 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Building 18 of the North Campus Research Complex.
  • March 26, 6:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., in the lobby of U-M Hospital Towsley Center.

A full list can be found on the American Red Cross website at

The American Red Cross reported on March 17 that nearly 2,700 blood drives have been canceled across the U.S. — resulting in about 86,000 fewer blood donations — due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools.

With the need for blood expected to continue to rise, officials are encouraging people to schedule a donation in late March or April if near-term blood drives are full.

“We have very complicated patients who have a lot of blood needs,” Davenport said.

“We have hematology-oncology patients who need red blood cells, who need platelets because their bone marrow isn’t functioning. Patients that undergo liver transplantation typically need 10 to 20 units of blood per procedure. We’ve got high-risk obstetrical patients. … There’s a lot of different types of patients here, and we’ve got a full house.”

Davenport said Michigan Medicine typically has a two- or three-day supply of blood on hand, but for more than a week, the hospital has been operating with a one-day supply.

Red Cross officials say the blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, and cancer patients.

“One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible,” Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, said in a news release.

To make an appointment to donate blood, visit the American Red Cross website at or call 800-733-2767.


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