The blood-collection system began changing significantly with the Great Recession, when Americans who had lost their jobs and health insurance put off noncritical procedures.
The need for blood is still falling even as the economy recovers. Demand dropped by 8.2% from 2008 to 2011 and continues to drop, according to a report by the AABB, formerly called the American Association of Blood Banks.
Contributing to the decline are blood-management programs, which include collecting blood lost during an operation and returning it to the patient, maximizing hemoglobin levels to prevent anemia and using medications to reduce bleeding during surgery.
The nation's blood-collection system has undergone a significant change from just a decade ago, when agencies that oversee the blood supply worried whether they could keep up with the needs of an aging population.
Now blood banks are making fewer but more targeted appeals for donations and reducing the size of their operations.
Blood centers shifted “from a collect-as-much-as-you-can mentality to a collect-to-need mentality,” Dr. Darrell Triulzi, medical director for the Institute for Transfusion Medicine in Pittsburgh and a former president of AABB, told the Associated Press. “That's new to the industry. We're still learning how to do that well.”
Job cuts have been a part of the process, with blood centers in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia all recently announcing staff reductions.
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