A new study shows a spike in blood donations after the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting was more than hospitals needed – so much so that 17 percent of the blood went unused.
The study co-authored by Justin Nix, assistant professor in the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and four colleagues is now available online ahead of its print inclusion in the "Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery."
Nix and his fellow researchers collected data from healthcare, public safety and law enforcement agencies for the study.
They learned 500 units of blood were transfused the day of the shooting. Donors gave nearly 800 units of blood the day following the shooting, and roughly 17 percent of those units went unused. In other words, the blood that hospitals needed was already on-hand and the public call for donations led to an influx of more than they could use.
"People just want to help after a mass casualty event, but we found giving blood in that first day or two after the incident might not be the best approach," Nix said. "The value of this study is that it gives us some insight into how communities can better handle these kinds of situations: encourage routine blood donation, provide training in hemorrhage control and develop a plan for the wave of blood donors that will step up to help, even if their blood may not be needed to help with that specific situation."
Among other takeaways, the researchers recommend public officials hold off on encouraging blood donation after a crisis unless local blood suppliers approve the message.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.