Nation confronts severe blood shortage, blood donations urgently needed

June 22, 2021

 The American Red Cross is urging Americans to take immediate action to donate blood due to a rise in the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries requiring blood products over recent months that has depleted the nation’s blood inventory.

“The Red Cross is currently experiencing a severe blood shortage,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Our teams are working around the clock to meet the extraordinary blood needs of hospitals and patients – distributing about 75,000 more blood products than expected over the past three months to meet demand – but we can’t do it without donors. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.”

Right now, hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen red cell demand from hospitals with trauma centers climb by 10% in 2021 – more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide transfusions. Twenty to 40% of trauma deaths that occur after hospital admission involve massive hemorrhaging. In these dire circumstances, doctors may need hundreds of blood products, depending on the severity of the trauma, to help save a life. In addition, there is great hospital demand for blood as patients who previously deferred care during the COVID-19 pandemic present with more advanced disease progression, therefore requiring increased blood transfusions.

“Some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care. As we return to pre-pandemic activities and resume travel to visit loved ones, we want people to remember the needs of patients this summer and the power so many of us have to help save lives,” Hrouda added.

With less than half a day supply available of type O blood in recent weeks, there is an emergency need for type O donors. Type O is the most needed blood group by hospitals. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. There is also an emergency need for platelets, the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Those who come to donate with the Red Cross June 14 to 30 will receive a $5 gift card by email.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate blood and platelets. Knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they receive is important in determining blood donation eligibility. As more and more people are vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases significantly drops, these Red Cross safety guidelines — based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration — are now in effect:

· Fully vaccinated blood donors will no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance. If someone wishes to continue wearing a mask, they may do so.

· Non-vaccinated blood donors will continue to be required to wear a mask and socially distance for their safety and the safety of those around them.

American Red Cross has the release.

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