South Texas blood supply strained from rise in auto accidents and other traumas

Several victims in need of 20-25 units of blood

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Emergency room doctors across the nation, including in San Antonio, are seeing a high increase in trauma cases. Many are from car accidents, which are rising dramatically.

The first line of treatment for trauma victims is blood transfusions. Sometimes, many transfusions are needed.

“In some cases, we are giving them 20-25 units of blood at a time. A healthy individual probably has 10 units of blood in their system,” said Dr. Donald Jenkins, a leading trauma surgeon at University Hospital and a professor of surgery at UT Health San Antonio. “So they’re getting two-and-a-half times their normal blood supply to replace the blood they’ve lost.”

Dr. Jenkins and colleagues are asking major employers and members of the community across South Texas to donate blood.

“God forbid it would be somebody that you know who needed to be on the receiving end of a transfusion and we didn’t have it to give,” Jenkins said.

“The blood supply in South Texas – and in fact, the entire country – is critically low,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President, Blood Operations at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first half of 2021 went through the largest six-month increase ever recorded in its system for recording highway accident fatalities.

A new report shows approximately 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021. This is an 18.4% increase from 2020.

You can give blood by making an appointment with one of the following:

In the last week, the need for blood at the University Hospital trauma center and other local hospitals has already spiked. Trauma teams also have been forced to use large amounts of blood for severely injured patients. Consequently, each of those blood units must be replaced by donors, since there is no substitute for human blood.

According to Dr. Jenkins, the increase in severe trauma injuries is straining the entire healthcare system. He also stresses that local individuals and businesses need to step up to help replenish the community supply.

“You may have been told you can’t donate in the past because you lived in Europe or for some other reason. Many of those restrictions have been lifted now,” said Jenkins.

Dr. Jenkins encouraged donors, especially those who had not been able to give because of military service in Europe, to check on their eligibility. You can ask questions about eligibility by calling 210-731-5555. Then ask for extension 2243.

About the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center:

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) is a nonprofit community blood center that provides blood, plasma, platelets and other blood components to 100 hospitals in 48 South Texas counties. It is the largest blood supplier in our region. In addition, it recovers and distributes donated human tissue for transplant. STBTC has a 45-year history serving the South Texas community. It is part of the BioBridge Global family of nonprofit organizations, which offers services in regenerative medicine and research including blood banking and resource management; cellular therapy; umbilical cord blood collection and storage; donated human tissue recovery and distribution for transplant; and testing of blood and plasma products to help patients in the United States and worldwide. STBTC has seven donor rooms in South Texas and conducts hundreds of mobile blood drives each year. STBTC is online at SouthTexasBlood.org.