Red Cross facing worst blood shortage in more than 10 years

(KBSI) – The American Red Cross is facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Recently, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. Sometimes, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

These dangerously low blood supply levels force doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

The Red Cross continues to confront challenges due to COVID-19. That includes about a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. The pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

To make an appointment to give blood or platelets, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Thanks to a partnership with the Red Cross and the National Football League those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Also, those who come to donate will be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross needs the help of volunteers. Blood drive volunteers greet, register, answer questions and provide information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Another volunteer opportunity includes blood transportation specialists who deliver blood to hospitals in communities across the country. To volunteer to support Red Cross blood collections, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center required face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

The Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease. Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

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