Red Cross Appeals for Donors During National Blood Shortage

MONDAY, Sept. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The American Red Cross said Monday that it urgently needs blood donations because the national blood supply has dropped nearly 25% since early August.

Back-to-back climate-related disasters have hampered blood collection efforts, and a summer shortfall has made the shortage worse.

Patients in need of transfusions as part of cancer and sickle cell disease treatments face the potential danger of not having the blood supply they need, the Red Cross said.

The organization asked for people of all blood types to donate. Platelet donors and those with type O blood are especially needed.

“For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don’t stop with natural disasters,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a news release.

“In fact, in some instances the stress of a disaster can lead to a medical crisis for some individuals battling sickle cell disease," Young added. "The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — an often-invisible emergency that the rest of the world doesn’t see behind closed hospital doors. Now, that urgency has only heightened.”

August donor turnout was likely low because of summer travel and back-to-school activities, according to the Red Cross. This contributed to a 30,000-donation shortfall in August alone.

Then, Hurricane Idalia recently caused more than 700 units of blood and platelets to go uncollected, according to the Red Cross, which is now monitoring for any impact from Hurricane Lee.

The Red Cross distributes blood supplies to about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers in the United States.

To help boost donations, the Red Cross is offering a limited edition t-shirt to donors who give blood, platelets or plasma through Sept. 18. Those who donate in September will also receive a coupon for a free haircut by email from Sport Clips Haircuts. Donors will also be entered for a chance to a win a VIP NASCAR racing experience.

The Red Cross is also offering free sickle cell trait screening for people who are Black or multiracial.

To make an appointment to give blood or platelets, donors can use the Red Cross Blood app, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on the importance of blood donation.

SOURCE: American Red Cross, news release, Sept. 11, 2023

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