Cancer affected person, surgeon encourages others to donate blood as supplies hit record lows

ANN ARBOR, me. – According to the American Red Cross, September and October had the lowest national blood inventory levels in more than a decade.

The greatest need is currently for type O, but all types are needed. In a typical year there would be a delay in donations in the summer and fall is the time to catch up. Due to the pandemic, participation in fundraising campaigns is low and fundraising centers or campaigns have been canceled.

Hospitals, patients and organizations are asking people with the right to roll up their sleeves and save a life.

“I honestly don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t gotten these tentacles during my entire treatment,” said Connor Burke.

Burke is a junior at the University of Michigan and a leukemia patient. He was diagnosed at the end of his freshman year 2019. He can remember the day he needed his first blood transfusion.

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“Wake up this morning. I couldn’t even really walk across the room to get to the bathroom, but at the end of the day, just that one unit of blood was enough to walk around on my own, ”said Burke.

He said that while one unit of blood can potentially save up to three lives, his story goes beyond that.

“I think I used about 10 to 12 units throughout my treatment, which really adds to that constant need,” said Burke.

That’s why Dr. John Magee, professor of transplant surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School and transplant surgeon at Michigan Medicine, worries about future blood supplies.

“At the moment we are on the wire and have just enough to make everything possible. So I’m very worried about what could happen in the future if we don’t change that, ”said Magee.

Transplant patients, cancer patients like Burke, and people in major car accidents are just some of the people who benefit from the national blood supply.

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“When we don’t have enough blood and we can’t do things safely, it means there is a risk that people will cancel elective surgery,” Magee said.

Elective surgeries can include bypasses, he said there is also a risk of having to cancel other surgeries like transplants. He hopes it doesn’t come to that.

There are those like Jayne Reinhard who give what they can.

“In the past year and a half I’ve probably donated four, five, six times,” said Reinhard.

Burke is grateful for these donors, but continues to remind others to stand up and be a hero.

“Heaven forbid someone like me ends up in a position that needs a lot of blood. I think they will regret not having done it. I can say I regret not donating before my diagnosis, ”said Burke.

While Burke cannot donate blood, he joined the board of directors of Blood Drives United at the University of Michigan, which runs fundraising drives on campus. He is also medical and plans to go into hematology or oncology to help future cancer patients.

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It only takes about an hour to donate blood. To find a blood drive near you, click here.

The University of Michigan’s largest blood drive is Be a Hero in the Big House on November 21st.

Read: More Blood Donation Coverage

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