Every three weeks, Adelyn Troutman goes to the hospital for a blood transfusion and each time her Ahwatukee family holds their breath.
They never know if that blood will be available.
The 6-year-old suffers from the rare Diamond Blackfan anemia, a condition that prevents her from developing her own red blood cells.
There is always a need for blood as she needs a transfusion every month, but these days the circumstances are even more troubling.
“You always have this concern about whether or not there will be blood available for her,” Adelyn’s father, Matt Troutman, said. “But even more now.”
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 12% drop in the number of blood donors each year across the country.
But while experts say COVID-19 has made collecting blood more difficult due to donor fears and understaffing at collection centers, prestigious Tufts University says “the blood donation landscape in its together really changed” for several years before COVID-19 was ever known.
“Older adults, who make up a large percentage of donations, are aging and younger donors are not replacing them quickly enough,” he said. “With fewer centers and fewer donors, the system is no longer as responsive as before and it is not always possible to respond to unexpected increases in demand.”
In Arizona, blood organizations like Vitalant are working to combat it. Over the July 4 weekend, he staged a two-day campaign and raised enough “to provide 466 red blood cell transfusions.
“We were hoping to see more donors, but we’re delighted to have come so close to meeting a full day’s blood requirement,” said Sue Thew, communications manager at Vitalant.
But now that more people are planning essential surgeries they postponed during the pandemic, blood is being used up faster than it can be supplied.
Lifestyle changes, such as working from home, have limited potential blood collection locations like offices. Additionally, generally reliable young adults and teenage donors in schools are away for the summer.
For Troutman, addressing a general lack of awareness is important.
“When everyone was working in the office, bloodbusters would come to the workplace and everyone had some kind of incentive or just felt compelled to go and do it,” Troutman said.
He and his wife Kami Troutman host
biannual blood drive in Ahwatukee and sometimes people believe that their
the donation directly serves Adelyn, when in reality her blood is a random donor.
And that’s how it is with any blood drive; you really can’t make an individual donation to a specific person in times of crisis.
“You can’t really wait until you know someone in a hospital bed to go donate blood. It takes about two days to test and process the blood before it can even be sent to a hospital for possible transfusion,” Thew said.
“So if you’re waiting until someone is already in a hospital bed, you’ve waited too long.”
Adelyn is an inspiration who ends up helping everyone, said Troutman, who along with his wife came up with the biannual campaigns partly as a way to ‘pay if done’ and encourage donations of blood that could help others as others have helped their daughter.
Her story reminds us that giving blood is a community effort.
“It’s everyone around us that keeps others alive,” Troutman said.
The Troutmans are holding their next blood drive in Adelyn’s honor at Desert Foothills Methodist Church in Ahwatukee on September 24.
how to help
The Ironwood Library, 4333 E Chandler Blvd, Ahwatukee, is hosting a community blood meeting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 22 on behalf of the American Red Cross. People 16 and older can make recommended blood donations and appointments can be made at redcrossblood.org. Select the “Blood Donation” option for an appointment. Walk-in donations are also welcome, subject to availability. Masks are optional.
To schedule a donation for Vitalant, go to vitalant.org.
To join the semi-annual Troutmans campaign, check out Mark Troutman or Kami Troutman on Phoenix for more details later this month.