A stochastic simulator of a blood product donation environment with demand spikes and supply shocks

Ming Wen An, Nicholas G. Reich, Stephen O. Crawford, Ron Brookmeyer, Thomas A. Louis, Kenrad E. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The availability of an adequate blood supply is a critical public health need. An influenza epidemic or another crisis affecting population mobility could create a critical donor shortage, which could profoundly impact blood availability. We developed a simulation model for the blood supply environment in the United States to assess the likely impact on blood availability of factors such as an epidemic. We developed a simulator of a multi-state model with transitions among states. Weekly numbers of blood units donated and needed were generated by negative binomial stochastic processes. The simulator allows exploration of the blood system under certain conditions of supply and demand rates, and can be used for planning purposes to prepare for sudden changes in the public's health. The simulator incorporates three donor groups (first-time, sporadic, and regular), immigration and emigration, deferral period, and adjustment factors for recruitment. We illustrate possible uses of the simulator by specifying input values for an 8-week flu epidemic, resulting in a moderate supply shock and demand spike (for example, from postponed elective surgeries), and different recruitment strategies. The input values are based in part on data from a regional blood center of the American Red Cross during. Our results from these scenarios suggest that the key to alleviating deficit effects of a system shock may be appropriate timing and duration of recruitment efforts, in turn depending critically on anticipating shocks and rapidly implementing recruitment efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21752
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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