The American Red Cross announced Tuesday that the nation is facing a blood crisis – the worst in a decade.
The reduced blood supply has become “at risk” to patient care, the organization said in a statement, adding that doctors will now have to make the difficult decision of who can get a blood transfusion and who will have to wait.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the main contributor to the reduction, a concern that was flagged even soon after the virus emerged in the US in March 2020. The number of blood donors has come down by about 10 percent since the beginning. Of epidemic.
“That’s just a change in our normal rhythm of life,” said Dr. Bia Lasky, medical director of the Red Cross, “including those who consider blood donation as a regular practice.” “It’s really hard to get back in the swing of things,” adding that some people don’t want to go out in public places if they don’t consider it necessary.
Blood drives cancellations and limited staffing have affected donor turnout, too. The recent winter season and spikes in COVID cases across the country are also making it difficult to access donations.
“Blood cannot be manufactured or stored,” Lasky said. Blood has a short shelf life. “It’s really the blood on our shelves that we have today that saves lives today.”
how to help
- Make an appointment to donate blood. Blood and platelet donations are important to prevent delays in critical medical treatment. Type O donors are specifically urged to donate. Find a location near you and sign up for an appointment using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).
- You can volunteer. The Red Cross is in need of volunteers to support blood drives across the country or to help transport blood to hospitals.
- Host a blood drive. Find a location in your community, recruit volunteers, and schedule donors. More information on registration and how to complete this process can be found here.
The Red Cross said, in recent weeks, he has had less than a day’s worth of vital blood groups. At other times, hospitals across the country were unable to meet up to a quarter of the blood requirement.
Lasky said a variety of patients — those who require blood transfusions for surgery, transplants and chronic diseases — depend on these blood donations. It is also important for people to “recognize that they may one day need blood,” she said.
“You never know when you’re going to wake up and find yourself needing blood, whether it’s surgery, trauma, a diagnosis, a devastating diagnosis,” Lasky said.
The urgency of low blood supply also renews investigation of restrictions on who can give blood. In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration relaxed donation limits from gay and bisexual men, among other groups. While LGBTQ groups welcomed the change, they said the overall ongoing ban still stigmatizes gay and bisexual men.
The Red Cross and the NFL also partnered this month to urge people to donate. Those who donate blood, platelets or plasma will be admitted for the opportunity to participate in Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Donors will also have the chance to win a home theater package that includes a $500 e-gift card.