Red Cross Declares Emergency Blood Shortage

Woman donating blood
Woman donating blood | Image by SeventyFour/Shutterstock

The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood shortage nationwide, urging individuals to donate blood as it faces its lowest number of donors in decades.

The American Red Cross has faced a national blood shortage for several months. The organization sought aid during a shortage last September, citing that the need for blood distribution was overtaking the donation rate, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The Red Cross announced on January 7 a national emergency for blood, again asking for support. The organization is facing its lowest amount of donors in 20 years as the number of donors has dropped about 40%, per the company’s press release.

“One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, according to a release.

“A person needs lifesaving blood every two seconds in our country — and its availability can be the difference between life and death, however, blood is only available thanks to the generosity of those who roll up a sleeve to donate,” added Young.

The organization attributes the drop in donors to changes in work schedules and community engagement over the past decades. The COVID-19 pandemic was also mentioned as an influencing factor as it accelerated the decline, with people beginning to work remotely and visit donation facilities less frequently.

“Prior to the pandemic, some eligibility changes were implemented to safeguard donors, such as raising the minimum hemoglobin thresholds, resulting in an increase in donor deferrals especially among young donors (16–18-year-olds). More than a decade ago, there were also changes in blood transfusion protocols at hospitals that impacted the demand for blood,” read the release.

“These changes illustrate the convergence of several factors that has made it challenging to keep and grow a motivated donor base to meet patient needs over the past two decades.”

Individuals nationwide are urged to register for donations to account for the deficit and provide lifesaving blood for those in need. Locations and information on donor eligibility can be found on the American Red Cross website.

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