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How the national blood crisis is impacting patients who rely on blood transfusions

“Well, I imagine I would probably die. I mean, I need it because my count gets so low. Sometimes it's way down and I think I just wouldn't make it."

TOLEDO, Ohio — As the American Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis, WTOL 11 spoke with a Toledo man who relies on blood donors to keep him alive. 

For more than a month now, Charles Nuding has spent nearly three hours a week at ProMedica getting a blood transfusion. He has cancer that's required the hours-long treatment.

"If I wasn't getting the blood, I wouldn't be alive today. I need it," he explained. "I'm getting treatment for cancer and until the treatment takes hold, I get blood sometimes every week or every other week."

The issue is blood is being used quicker than it's being donated. Jim McIntyre with the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio said between winter weather, COVID-19 and supply issues, blood can't stay on the shelves.

"All combining to create this historic blood shortage," explained McIntyre. "These challenges have resulted in the lowest national blood inventories in more than a decade."

And not to mention, the emergencies that trauma medical director, Dr. John Leskovan treats at Mercy Health. "It's not uncommon that those patients may utilize 25 even 50 units of blood just for one patient," he said. "Right now, that would probably deplete our daily supply."

The blood management team at ProMedica said their supply continues to decrease, as well. Several sites are below their minimum volumes.

However, the hospital has been able to implement many blood management strategies across the system. The most beneficial one? Donors stepping forward.

"So many people need blood and these people need to give," said Nuding. "There isn't anything about it. They have to save lives. It's an emergency."