US blood supply faces funding threats

SAN FRANCISCO: The U.S. blood donation system faces formidable financial and biological threats, researchers announced Monday.

The blood supply functions well but could face funding crunches in coming years as medical advances reduces the need for donated blood, according to researchers who recommended the government do more to oversee blood collection centers.

Hospitals will likely need less blood in the future but it would still be vitally important for some patients. If collection centers begin to close due to financial burdens, the life-saving supply of blood could be dangerously disrupted.

Blood-transmitted diseases could also damage the blood supply and result in costly repercussions for blood collection centers.

In 2013, the researchers said, more than 14 million units of blood were collected in the U.S. from about 15.2 million individuals. With each unit of blood measuring roughly 525 milliliters, the figure means that about 7.6 million liters was donated.

The U.S. blood system operates effectively, but it is in a state of flux and uncertainty, lead author Andrew Mulcahy said in a statement. Financial pressures, changes in health care practice and technology, and the emergence of external threats such as the Zika virus are pressuring the system and may potentially threaten the available supply of blood. We need a better, more-efficient and more-sustainable system.

While researchers do not advocate the federal government take over the blood supply system, Mulcahy and his team believe the government could do a better job in researching the system and should partly subsidize blood collection centers in order to allow them to keep a large supply of blood available for public health emergencies.

In general, researchers believe the government should create a blood safety net in case a crisis requires a large amount of blood.

The report was released by the RAND non-profit research organization and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Source: Anadolu Agency