Long-time DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) partner Carter BloodCare announced in June that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the North Texas blood shortage is the worst they’ve seen in decades. For the remainder of 2021, DFWHC will post regular blogs detailing the blood shortage and opportunities in the community to donate blood. Spread the word!
Cancer patients are often in critical need of blood transfusions during their disease progression and treatment. In fact, blood transfusions are the most common inpatient procedure at one of Texas’ largest cancer treatment centers. In 2018, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston reported transfusing more than 190,000 blood products.
Patients fighting cancer require blood transfusions when their blood cell levels become critically low. Preserving the valuable blood supply is important so that these cancer patients can get the blood transfusions they require for their lifesaving care.
Why do patients with cancer need blood transfusions?
The reason why a patient with cancer may require a transfusion can depend on the type of cancer they have. Patients with gastric or colon cancer can have internal bleeding, leading to significant blood loss. Patients with cancer involving the bone marrow can develop low levels of blood cells as the cancer crowds out the bone marrow cells that normally produce blood cells. Cancer that invades the bone marrow can be leukemia, lymphoma, or even metastatic cancer that travelled from somewhere else in the body.
The medications used to treat cancer can also cause low blood cell levels. Chemotherapy is a medication that targets and kills cells that are rapidly dividing; this includes both cancer cells and cells in the bone marrow that produce blood cells. Therefore, a common side effect of chemotherapy is low blood cell counts until the bone marrow is able to recover when treatment is complete. Patients receiving bone marrow transplants or stem cell transplants receive extra high doses of chemotherapy in preparation for their transplant, causing even more severe and prolonged low blood cell counts.
The need for transfusion in patients battling cancer can go on for many months as patients receive treatment, and some patients need multiple transfusions each week to prevent serious complications like organ damage and spontaneous bleeding. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of blood!
These life-saving blood products come from blood donations made by you – our local, generous blood donors. Please donate today to help a community cancer patient in need.
Visit carterbloodcare.org or call/text 800-366-2834 to set up an appointment to donate.