Critical care flight team stresses the need for blood

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s AirLink/VitaLink helicopter provides care to patients in traumatic events, but the blood shortage is making their jobs more difficult.

The crew on board the helicopter says the severity of the blood shortage has increased because of the pandemic.

“It directly impacts us from a critical care transport perspective because we deal with a population of patients that require blood products to resuscitate them, prevent them from dying, or prevent unnecessary use, or overuse in a hospital setting,” said AirLink/VitaLink Chief Transport Nurse Kevin Hodge.

When the call goes out for a life flight, it’s an instant notification that the situation is dire, and the patient has a dangerous amount of blood loss.

The Critical Care team has a checklist they go through to determine if there is an immediate need for blood, however this blood donation shortage has made that checklist an even more strenuous process. The team said that blood is a necessary tool onboard.

“It really reduces mortality and morbidity, and negative impacts downstream for that patient, so it’s extremely important--the sooner that we recognize the need for it, the sooner we actually have access to implement that product for them,” said Hodge.

This shortage is creating a limited access to blood, but the crew said the solution is simple--donating blood.

Hodge said, “everyone can step up and say I can be a health care hero, I can really give up myself to make a difference in somebody else’s life.”

He wants people to think about the lives they can save by donating blood, and especially because you never know when it might be you or a loved one in need.

“Collectively working as a community together, we can correct this problem and we can get this necessary resource out to the people, so together I think we can be remarkable,” said Hodge.

The most significant need is for O-negative blood, the universal blood type, but any donation can help. To put things in perspective, one person donating blood can save up to three lives.

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