Regional blood shortage affects local hospitals


UP Health System

The UP Regional Blood Center serves 13 Upper Peninsula hospitals, including UP Health System – Portage in Hancock.

Kiera Raymond, Lode Writer

With the ongoing pandemic, blood donations have been at a yearly low across the nation, but especially in remote locations like the Upper Peninsula. For this reason, many health leaders have been urging students to participate in local blood drives. “Donating with the UP Regional Blood Donations ensures that blood stays in UP hospitals, for all types of situations where blood transfusions are needed,” said Rachel Heath, coordinator of blood collection for the UP Regional Blood Center. “Donations can go to a wide variety of people, like patients with anemia, which has a low iron count whether from medical conditions or excessive blood loss, during surgeries . . .  to women after labor as they lose a lot of blood, patients with certain health conditions, and most commonly car accidents, where hospitals can use anywhere from 1 to 100 units of blood on one patient.”

This calls for a lot of blood, which explains why hospitals are desperate right now. Hospitals have a need for all types of blood, but especially type O-, as it is the universal donor, meaning that this type of blood can be administered to individuals of any blood group. Heath makes clear that if the shortage continues, hospitals may not be able to offer the best care in saving patients.

According to the American Red Cross, individuals save approximately three lives each time they donate blood. Blood drives are an easy way for the community to help with the blood shortage problem. Heath believes that donations are so low because there aren’t enough young people donating blood. “The older generation are primarily the ones who show up to blood drives. It was instilled in their generation that it was their duty to donate blood, and now younger generations are in the mindset of ‘someone else will do it.’ When older generations are at a point when they can no longer donate, the nation will see even less donors and we’ll be in bigger trouble. We need to start encouraging younger generations to start making a habit of donating blood.”

Interested individuals can visit to see if they are eligible to donate blood. To set up an appointment at the Hancock Blood Bank, call (906) 483-1392 or visit one of the upcoming blood drives in the area. There will be one at the L’Anse Township Hall Dec. 21 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., and one at Finlandia University on Jan. 18 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.