Red Cross Says Blood Shortage Is Worst in a Decade

The American Red Cross is pleading for donors as it grapples with its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

The shortage poses a risk to patient care because doctors are forced to make decisions about which patients receive blood transfusions and which ones must wait until more blood becomes available, the Red Cross said in a statement.

The organization supplies 40% of the nation’s blood supply, but has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals, and some hospitals may not receive 1 in 4 blood products they need.

Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled and is only available through volunteer donors. In recent weeks, there’s been less than a one-day supply of critical blood types, according to the Red Cross.

The agency cited a number of factors behind the blood shortage crisis.

There’s been a 10% decrease in overall blood donations since March 2020, and a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for about 25% of donors in 2019, but for just 10% during the pandemic.

Not only that, but there are ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing shortages.

Other factors include a surge of COVID-19 cases and an active flu season, according to the organization.

“At a time when many businesses and organizations across the country are experiencing pandemic challenges, the Red Cross is no different. We are all learning how to live in this new environment, how we spend our time, where we work, how we give back, how we make a difference in the lives of others — donating blood must continue to be part of it,” the agency said.

More information

Here’s where to go to find a blood drive near you.

SOURCE: American Red Cross, news release

Source: HealthDay

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