Are Austin hospitals delaying elective surgeries following Saturday’s mass shooting?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following last Saturday’s mass shooting, Austin-based hospitals experienced surges in demand for blood donations. But when it comes to blood supplies and hospital operations, area hospitals are still operating as expected with scheduled elective surgeries.

Representatives from Baylor Scott & White Health, Ascension Seton and St. David’s HealthCare each said their systems have not had to postpone any elective surgeries due to limited blood supplies. Each of these hospital systems contract with We Are Blood, an Austin-based blood donation center.

In a tweet Monday, the Central Texas Red Cross said the organization is experiencing blood shortages, adding “some elective surgeries are being delayed until the blood supply stabilizes.”

Marty McKellips, chief executive officer of the Central and South Texas region, told KXAN Wednesday there are shortages of Blood Type O and blood platelets, but the Red Cross does not contract with Austin-based hospitals.

In a statement issued to KXAN Wednesday, regional manager of communications Lucy Gale Walsworth said area hospitals are seeing higher emergency room and trauma visits, resulting in that increased need for blood donors.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” she said in the release. “As many people begin to enjoy travel and time with loved ones again this summer, patients are relying on the generosity of donors to help ensure they have access to the treatment they need. Please consider blood donation as a summer activity that can help save lives.”

“[Saturday’s mass shooting and resulting blood demand] was more than is normally anticipated on a Saturday morning and more than a hospital to keep on hand for such an event.”

Nick Canedo, we are blood’s vice president of community engagement

KXAN reached out to Gale Walsworth for specific information on Austin-based hospitals the Central Texas Red Cross contracts with, as well as the total number of elective surgeries postponed in the organization’s nine-county coverage area. The Central Texas Red Cross branch did not respond to requests as of publication time.

Nick Canedo, vice president of community engagement for We Are Blood, said the organization is the primary provider for more than 40 hospitals and clinics within Central Texas.

In an interview with KXAN Wednesday, he said Saturday’s shooting presented a heightened and immediate demand for blood donations, especially given the organization’s status as some hospitals’ sole contractors.

“It’s so important that following the shooting that occurred on Saturday morning — that was a situation where many different gunshot patients require blood transfusions, and we are sending out additional blood donations,” he said. “That was more than is normally anticipated on a Saturday morning and more than a hospital to keep on hand for such an event.”

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