Emergency & Trauma

December 1, 2021

Treating severe trauma requires a robust blood supply; VUMC employees and public urged to donate blood now

Shon Dwyer, President, Vanderbilt University Hospital was one of the first participants to donate. (photo by Susan Urmy)
Shon Dwyer, President of  Vanderbilt University Hospital, donated at a recent Red Cross blood drive. (photo by Susan Urmy)

To understand the implications of the current, ongoing national blood shortage, which acutely deteriorated after the Thanksgiving holiday, VUMC employees need only to consider what the shortfall means to their own Level 1 Trauma Center…and potentially to them or their loved ones, said Oscar Guillamondegui, MD, MPH, Chief, Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.

“In any major trauma that injures solid organs (e.g., liver, spleen) or causes musculoskeletal damage such as the pelvis or the femur bones there is a need for large volume resuscitation with blood products,” he said.

VUMC is experiencing severe shortages of O positive and O negative red blood cell units, which are expected to continue.

To address this, the VUMC Blood Bank is auditing every order of O positive and O negative red blood cells for appropriateness and canceling or limiting orders that don’t meet VUMC guidelines, among other measures.

“Although brain injury remains the No. 1 cause of death in the trauma population, the second leading cause is exsanguination (blood loss). Without blood products early in the management of our trauma patients, there is an increased risk of succumbing to injury by hemorrhagic shock,” Guillamondegui said.

“On average, if blood is warranted, that group of trauma patients will receive between two and four units of blood and coagulation products to decrease the risk of bleeding to death.”

The American Red Cross holds frequent blood drives on VUMC’s 21st Avenue and One Hundred Oaks campuses. Employees and members of the public are encouraged to donate.

You can see a schedule of upcoming Red Cross blood drives and sign up to donate at a time convenient with your schedule at  https://news.vumc.org/2021/11/10/vumc-continues-to-see-critical-blood-shortages/

“Everyone is a moment away from becoming a trauma patient, and it affects all equally. By donating blood, you have the opportunity to save a life and, it may even be your own,” Guillamondegui said.