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How the national blood shortage is affecting Mississippi

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The American Red Cross last week announced a nationwide blood shortage, which by default could take a toll on Mississippi.

Newly-appointed Mississippi Blood Services President and CEO Christopher Swafford says their shelves are stocked for the time being. However, he notes that it only takes one incident for the supply to be consumed and that blood donations are always encouraged.

“We’ve actually had a very good week this week. We are running ourselves in a positive manner right now,” Swafford said on Thursday’s airing of The Gallo Show. “It only takes one accident. It only takes one tragedy for the blood supply to be depleted very quickly. So, we want to maintain three to five days’ worth of blood on our shelf if at all possible.”

A misconception Swafford has noticed that has dissuaded individuals from donating blood is the idea that others will donate in droves and maintain a constantly replenishing blood supply. Swafford argues that the assertion cannot be further from the truth.

“One of the biggest [misconceptions], I think, is that someone else is going to take care of the blood supply. It’s each one of our jobs if you’re healthy and able to donate,” Swafford said. “Only about five percent of the population donates, but 99 percent of the population will take that transfusion in an emergency or when they need it.”

Swafford is optimistic that the ascension of artificial intelligence in the medical field will enable blood donation centers to utilize tools that will help recruit new donors and retain existing ones.

“There is a lot of research being done right now on ways that they can help with predictive measures — who will donate and who will need transfusions — looking at the different opportunities for the better ways that we can help support local healthcare,” Swafford added.

Mississippi Blood Services welcomes prospective donors to schedule an appointment to give blood. The center ensures skeptics that blood donation is safe.

Watch the full interview with Swafford below.

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