SUMMER CHALLENGE: Red Cross faces looming blood shortage, seeks donors
The American Red Cross is facing a looming blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.
Donations through the Red Cross are down approximately 8% during the past 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.
The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks.
With the Fourth of July falling on a Friday this year, sponsors held fewer blood drives that week because so many people had planned extended vacations.
Demand for blood continues
“Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they’re relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead,” said Jeff Meyer, who oversees the Connecticut Blood Services Regions for the Red Cross.
“Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need — and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood,” Meyer said.
What is needed now
Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets — a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients — must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.
The summer can be among the most challenging times of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they take vacations and participate in summer activities. Fewer blood drives take place at college campuses as well.
How to donate blood
Call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification, are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
The nonprofit American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.