Blood Shortage Affects Elective Surgeries

January 25, 2007 -- Posted at 6:41 p.m. CST

PARAGOULD, AR -- Some Region 8 hospitals are cancelling some elective surgeries because there isn't enough blood to go around.

"It's hard for me to do my job and save lives if I don't have the product to save them with," said blood bank worker Alan Reagan.

Reagan cross-matches blood at the Arkansas Methodist Hospital in Paragould and a shortage of blood could keep him from doing his job.

"We just had a trauma earlier where we had a patient that was bleeding profusely and we've already gone through ten units.  You can't stop it.  If the patient is in surgery you have to continue to give blood," said Reagan.

For now, some elective surgeries like hip replacements, gastric bypass, and hysterectomies are being cancelled.

"The physician may have to postpone it for six months or longer, it just depends on what the elective surgery is and so forth," said Reagan.

The reason hospitals are having such a shortage is not enough people are donating.  Only five percent of the population donate blood each year.

"I see it worsening.  I don't see it getting any better.  It's been this way for several years," said Reagan.

The American Red Cross has donors that come into their center on Grant Avenue, but many of those donors aren't there by accident.

"This is where we also have a backup list of donors that we can call," said Bob Draper.

Without more people willing to give blood, those in blood banks across the state will still worry.

"We don't know when that motor vehicle accident is going to come in, we don't know when a child is going to come in that needs help immediately," said Reagan.

Some of the blood that's donated in Arkansas is being sent to other states hit hard by recent flooding and snow storms.

For more info on blood and how to donate, see the American Red Cross' website at