The American Red Cross reported Monday that the nation is currently experiencing a shortage in blood supply.
The need for the distribution of blood is currently overtaking the rate of donations, and officials are urgently asking for donations to make up for the deficit.
Red Cross reports that blood supply levels have dropped nearly 25% since early August. Officials believe that these dangerously low levels could threaten the ability to care for “patients with an emergency need for blood, or those living with critical conditions such as cancer and sickle cell disease and who depend on lifesaving blood transfusions,” according to a September 11 press release from the organization.
“Donors of all blood types are urgently needed, and there is an emergency need for platelet donors and type O blood donors to make an appointment to give now to ensure patients across the country continue to receive critical medical care,” according to the press release.
Officials attribute the deficit in blood supply in part to hurricanes that have impacted the nation, as well as low donor turnout in the month of August. The arrival of Hurricane Idalia in the southeastern U.S. is said to have precluded 700 units of blood and platelets from being collected. Hurricane Lee is expected to compound issues by potentially striking those who live in the northeastern U.S.
“For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don’t stop with natural disasters,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, in the press release. “In fact, in some instances the stress of a disaster can lead to a medical crisis for some individuals battling sickle cell disease.
“The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — an often-invisible emergency that the rest of the world doesn’t see behind closed hospital doors. Now, that urgency has only heightened.”
Donations of blood or platelets can be made to any local facility. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or through the Red Cross Blood App.
The press release also noted that September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. More than 100,000 people have sickle cell disease in the U.S. and require regular blood transfusions to help manage their illness.
Anyone who donates blood, platelets, or plasma by September 18 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt while supplies last. Free sickle cell screening is also being offered for persons who self-identify as African American or multiracial.