A statewide blood shortage has left UMMC's blood bank in need of replenishing.
A statewide blood shortage has left UMMC's blood bank in need of replenishing.
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Emergency campus blood drive to allow UMMC community to give back

Published on Monday, January 7, 2019

By: Ruth Cummins

Mississippi Blood Services will take donations at the Medical Center Tuesday and Wednesday to help address a statewide blood shortage that potentially impacts surgeries and transfusions.

The MBS donor coach will be set up from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday on the walkway behind the Guyton Research Center and during that same time Wednesday in front of the School of Medicine Education Building. UMMC Human Resources policy allows employees an hour of paid leave during their regular workday to donate, with authorization from their supervisor.

UMMC late last week postponed some routine blood transfusions so that its stock could return to an acceptable level and asked surgeons to consider whether any of their operations could be rescheduled. Several cases over the last week drained shelves because they required multiple units of blood, and MBS hasn’t been able to keep up with replenishing needs.

“We’re at a critical level on being able to reliably supply blood,” said Dr. Claude Brunson, professor of anesthesiology, senior advisor to Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. LouAnn Woodward, and chair of UMMC’s blood donations committee. “We were at risk of having to postpone elective scheduled surgeries today, but so far haven’t had to do that.

“We are issuing a Medical Center-wide call to employees to donate so that we can restore the minimum supply we need to continue the care that only we can provide to Mississippians across our state, including high-level cases and for ICU patients who will need blood,” Brunson said.

“We need to keep a close eye on the inventory to make sure we can support unexpected cases – trauma and transplants – that tend to use a lot of blood products. Those aren’t planned,” said Dr. Lisa Stempak, assistant professor of pathology and director of clinical pathology.

“Both O positive and O negative blood are universal donors, and regardless of a patient’s blood type, we can use those in an emergency.”

Mississippi Blood Services sends one of its motor coaches to community blood drives.

The Medical Center has placed emphasis on UMMC as a community donating blood, Brunson said, and includes the Ole Miss campus in Oxford as a partner. “These kinds of instances demonstrate just how important blood is for us and our patients,” he said. “It’s important for us to give back as employees to help meet the mission of the Medical Center.”

Said Dr. Chris Anderson, professor and James D. Hardy Chair of the Department of Surgery: “Blood donation is vital to our mission at UMMC to take care of the sickest and most complex.  We don’t turn these patients away, but shortages in the blood supply certainly make caring for all of our patients more difficult.”

Employees also can donate at the MBS office at 115 Tree Street (off of Treetop) on Lakeland Drive in Flowood. MBS is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Saturday and Sunday donations are by appointment only.

Employees donating at MBS will need to identify themselves as UMMC employees or students responding to the MBS call so the Medical Center can receive credit for the donations.

Stempak said that when some employees on Friday learned of the developing shortage, they asked where they could donate.

“People here recognize the need and the importance of helping to supply our Medical Center inventory,” she said. “People are willing. It’s just finding where to go.”