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Red Cross Declares National Blood Shortage Crisis

Blood Donation - Stock Photo (via Unplash)
Blood Donation – Stock Photo (via Unplash)

ASHEBORO N.C. – The American Red Cross has declared a national blood shortage crisis amid dangerously low supply levels and dropping donation rates.

On January 11th 2022, the Red Cross issued a statement with dire language saying the shortage is posing a concerning risk to patient care, forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait. The statement says blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country. We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors. We need the help of the American people.”

The shortage is so bad that in recent weeks the Red Cross says supplies of critical blood types have dropped below a one day supply. The blood inventory at Duke University Hospital is currently sitting at half its normal level. In California a shortage of blood forced the L.A. County Department of Health to shut down one of its trauma centers to new patients for several hours, a step the department said it had not taken in over 3 decades.

The Blood Connection, a community blood center that supplies hospitals in North Carolina says it expects to collect 40% less than what hospitals are saying they need in the next 30 days.

What is causing the blood shortage crisis?

The crisis is being blamed on a combination of decreased donor turnout, the COVID-19 pandemic, cancellation of blood drives, and staffing challenges. All this has led to the worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

  • 10% overall blood donation decline since March 2020
  • 62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for ~25% of donors in 2019 accounted for just ~10% during the pandemic
  • Ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations
  • Additional factors like a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season may compound the already bad situation

How you can help

The Red Cross is asking people to donate to help end the blood crisis. You can make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

While the most critical need is for O Pos, O Neg, and platelets, the Red Cross says that right now all blood types are needed to help end the blood crisis.

Upcoming Local Blood Drives

Red Cross Blood Drive
January 19 @ 2:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Journey Church – 1801 S Fayetteville St, Asheboro, NC 27205

Red Cross Blood Drive
January 20 @ 2:00 PM – 6:30 PM

First United Methodist Church – 224 N. Fayetteville St. Asheboro, NC 27203