Minnesota's blood supply at 10-year low as donations drop

An African-American man lies on a seat while having his blood drawn.
Ibrahim Jafuneh donates blood for the first time inside of a Red Cross bus in St. Paul in September 2019. Officials are concerned about the short blood supply after the pandemic led to a drop in donations.
Tiffany Bui | MPR News 2019

Health care professionals are urging Minnesotans to donate blood due to a supply shortage being felt across the state.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on the issue Monday with several blood bank officials. Blood donations have been down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Klobuchar said hospitals rely on those community donations.

“Right now, Minnesota’s blood bank donations are at a 10-year low,” Klobuchar said. “Compounding that, we’re heading into a time of the year when blood donations tend to drop off anyway right after the holidays when it’s cold in our part of the country.”

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An official with the American Red Cross, Tonia Teasley, said blood donations in the region are down 10 percent. She said many people are not donating because they are worried about their own health.

The American Red Cross, Memorial Blood Centers and others are trying to get more people to give blood.

Dr. Jed Gorlin of Memorial Blood Centers noted that car accidents and violence are also factors in the recent shortage.

“We have had more penetrating trauma, gun shot wounds and knife wounds, as of the end of August than we did in all of 2019,” Gorlin said. “So, sadly this is not just a problem of decreased donations. This is also increased usage.”

January is the National Blood Donation month.