American Red Cross is facing blood shortage and urging donors to come forth

The American Red Cross issued an emergency statement early this week that they are facing a shortage of blood and are urging willing donors to come forth and donate blood or platelets as soon as possible.

Image Credit: Vladimir Mucibabic / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Vladimir Mucibabic / Shutterstock

The Red Cross officials explain that the demand for the blood donated is much higher than the supply. Blood and platelets donated are being routinely sent to hospitals, the incoming donated blood and platelets are falling short of this supply. As of now the shortage is of 61,000 fewer donations than what is needed and over the last two months the shortages have been acute the statement says.

Shaun Gilmore, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services said that there has been a significant decline in the “summer donations” and thus overall blood supply is declining fast. He urged new and old donors to come forward and help them restock the hospitals with adequate amounts of blood so that lives are saved. Blood requirements for patients meeting with accidents or those who are being treated for cancers and blood diseases do not vary over the year or over seasons he explained. Round the year a health stock of blood is necessary to meet the demands.

Blood donations typically dip around the Independence day week. There are fewer blood donation drives around this time due most people being on vacations. Compared to any other week, around 700 less blood donation drives are help over the 4th of July week at community gatherings, places of worship etc. These fewer drives mean that the Red Cross doesn’t get blood at any blood drives for more than an entire day.

There are several fears and myths regarding blood or platelet donation that need to busted and more social awareness is needed. Fear of needles is one such hurdle that stops may people for donating blood. Red Cross blood donors who do it regularly can help show new donors that it is really not a big deal to donate blood or platelets and help save lives. Statistics show that blood is needed by an American every two seconds and Red Cross needs nearly 14,000 blood donations every day in order to meet the needs of nearly 2,600 hospitals across the country who would need them on an emergency basis for their patients.

Blood donations can be safely made by persons over the age of 17 years in most states and at 16 with parental consent in some states. They should weigh at least 110 pounds and should be generally healthy. Height weight requirements are to be met by donors 18 years of age and younger before they can proceed to donate blood. There is a Red Cross Blood Donor App where an appointment could be made for a voluntary donation. The persons interested may also visit or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) to donate. Individuals need to complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire to speed up the process of the donation. Appointments can be sought beforehand to reduce waiting times. Over the next few weeks after this lull in donations, the Red Cross has opened up an additional 25,000 additional appointment slots at the different donation sites to allow more donors to come and contribute.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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