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Blood shortage may delay East County leukemia patient's treatment

Blood shortage may delay East County leukemia patient's treatment
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 20:36:36-05

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) — Loved ones of an East County leukemia patient say they’re worried the region’s critically low blood supply could delay her lifesaving treatment.

A year and a half after Valorie Bowman, who is now in her early 70s, was diagnosed with leukemia, her fight continues.

Recently doctors said her current treatment was not working as they had hoped, and she would have to switch to a different immunotherapy infusion to target the cancer in her spleen.

“This is like her best chance, this treatment,” said her daughter, Nicole Bowman.

The problem? The white and red blood cell counts may be too low to receive the treatments. If that's confirmed this weekend, she'll need a blood transfusion before she can undergo the treatments.

Then came this news from her doctor’s office.

“He was told the blood may not be available,” said Nicole Bowman.

On Tuesday, the Red Cross declared its first ever blood crisis amid surging COVID cases, staffing issues and canceled blood drives.

“The blood situation is truly critical,” said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, Chief Medical Officer for Acute Care and Clinical Excellence at Scripps Health. “The local blood supply is down 30% to 50%.”

She says elective procedures have been postponed. Blood supplies are being managed, shifted form one hospital to another. She fears it will hamper her trauma units.

“In layman's terms, each of the hospitals can only handle one major bleed. So if you’re in a car accident and you need blood, only one of you might get treated at each of our hospitals. So if you has a mass casualty accident happening in San Diego, lives could be lost,” said Dr. Sharieff.

Dr. Sharieff made a plea for more blood donors. Nicole making a similar appeal on the site Nextdoor.

"It's my mom. She’s fighting for her life, and I’d do anything I can to fight it for her, if I could,” said Nicole.

Within days, Bowman says she received over 40 responses with promises to donate blood.

“I’m grateful for their response. I’m grateful they’re helping my mom fight for her life.” said Nicole.

Because it's not certain her mother's transfusion is needed, her name hasn't been registered, so no blood donations can be directed to her—for now.

If you're interested in making an appointment for a donation, go to