BOONE — The Blood Connection, the sole provider of Watauga Medical Center, is experiencing a never-before-seen critical need for blood.

If the shortage is prolonged, it could negatively impact patients in local hospitals, the organization announced Jan. 12.

The organization stated the shortage is unlike any other in TBC history, and the organization is projecting to collect 40 percent less than what hospitals need in the next 30 days.

The critically low blood supply can affect local hospital orders, meaning it will also affect hospital patients. TBC is the sole provider of Watauga Medical Center, and many others in the Western North Carolina region and across South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. The only way to solve this problem is to get more blood donations and more blood drives. The Blood Connection stated that businesses, churches and schools must host blood drives for this crisis to end. Organizations can call (864) 255-5003 to host a blood drive.

“We are currently able to get blood products from our supplier, The Blood Connection,” said Rob Hudspeth, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System senior vice president for system advancement. “However, there is critical need for donors.”

Hudspeth said if possible, community members should donate to The Blood Connection blood drives.

TBC has experienced historically low blood donor turnout for roughly 10 months. Coupled now with blood drive cancelations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and a further decline in donor turnout, TBC is now on the verge of a blood emergency.

As snow and ice moved into several of TBC’s service areas, six of The Blood Connection’s 13 donation centers were forced to close their doors due to inclement weather, and nearly all blood drives across the Upstate of South Carolina and North Carolina were canceled. While the storm moved out Sunday night, icy conditions were left behind, causing delayed openings at many donation centers.

The closures and delays mean The Blood Connection cannot collect the necessary 800 units of blood a day to supply hospitals across the Carolinas and Georgia. Prior to Sunday’s winter storm, The Blood Connection was already struggling to fulfill 100% of orders from local hospitals due to continued historically low donor turnout. The community’s blood supply is once again in jeopardy, as ice and snow are impacting community member’s ability to donate. This, as more winter weather is expected to move in Friday in the same service areas. Community blood donors are urged to donate blood as soon as possible to ensure hospital needs are uninterrupted. Appointments are encouraged but not mandatory. Additionally, blood drives are just as essential as blood donors. To host a blood drive, please call (864) 751-5003.

As the community’s blood center, donating blood with TBC can directly affect the communities where donors live and work. Patients and hospitals across the region rely on generous blood donors to ensure units of blood are available for emergencies and for routine procedures. Blood cannot be replicated and must come from a human.

TBC is calling on community members to make an appointment to donate blood now and encourage friends and family to do the same. The Blood Connection has multiple centers and bloodmobiles open every day, and TBC also needs more places to host blood drives.

Donors can find convenient blood drives near them by going to thebloodconnection.org/donate. As a thank you to donors who donate, The Blood Connection is offering a variety of incentives and bonus eGift cards.

Donors can find upcoming promotions and bonus opportunities by following The Blood Connection on Facebook and other social media sites.

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