a close up shot of bags of blood
Photo by Charlie-Helen Robinson on Pexels.com

The American Red Cross says it’s facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. 

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and limited blood product distributions to hospitals, the organization said on Jan. 11. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs have not been met.

“Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available,” the Red Cross said. 

“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,” they said. 

With January being National Blood Donor Month and the current crisis, The Red Cross and the NFL have partnered, urging individuals to give blood or platelets to help reduce the national blood shortage. 

Those who give blood, platelets, or plasma in January will automatically get a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. 

In addition, those who donate blood to the Red Cross will be entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card as an extra perk. 

Visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Pandemic Causes Numerous Challenges

The Red Cross continues to confront relentless challenges due to COVID-19, including about a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. 

Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. 

“Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care,” Dr. Lasky said. 

In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross said it also needs the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections across the country and it’s offering more health-related information to donors, particularly African Americans. 

As an example, the Red Cross now screens all blood, platelet and plasma donations from African-American donors to help those with patients within that group with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. 

Blood transfusion remains an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease. 

In addition, blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity, and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease, the Red Cross said.

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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