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University Hospital blood supply lowest it's been in more than a decade

The medical director of transfusion services at University Health System said this is the lowest their supply has been in the 14 years she's been there.

SAN ANTONIO — Dr. Robyn Scherber is reversing the roles. 

On Wednesday, she sat down to donate blood at University Hospital. She works there in the hematology and oncology department. Each day, she treats people with different blood cancers, like leukemia.

"I've been there, in the emergency department, when they tell me there's not enough blood for my patients to get transfused," Scherber said. "It's terrifying."

It's typical for donations to go down during the summer and holiday season. A spokesperson with the University Health System said a lot of people responded to their blood supply emergency before Christmas. They got a needed boost, but didn't climb out of the supply deficit. 

Now they're in a tough place. 

Dr. Leslie Greebon is the medical director of transfusion services at University Health System. She said this is the lowest their supply has been in the 14 years she's been there.

"We have less than half of what we should have," Greebon said. "If it gets to a critical level, we will have to start canceling elective surgeries in order to conserve our blood for the patients we already have."

From the NICU to the emergency room, Greebon said units are used throughout the hospital. 

As a Level 1 trauma center, they also receive patients who are in critical condition. Greebon said their supply could take a major hit from a single-car accident. 

"One patient can use hundreds of units, which we don't have at this time," Greebon said.

Sherber gets it, we're all busy. 

"I confess, my schedule doesn't usually let me come on a regular basis," Scherber said.

But when she heard about the shortage, she made time to come in. She's O-negative, which means her donation can go to anyone.

"Knowing my blood is pretty universal, it does definitely help with the motivation to go give blood," Scherber said.

Scherber said this is another way she can be there for her patients.

"In some cases that blood, you never know, it might go to your loved one," Scherber said.

On a good month, the donation center at University Hospital usually brings in about 500 to 600 units, which covers less than half of what they need to treat patients. The rest comes from supplies the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center that's also experiencing a shortage.

To make an appointment to donate blood at University Hospital, call 210-358-2812.

To make an appointment at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, click here

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