Red Cross Declares National Blood Crisis

Jan. 11, 2022

The Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis and is encouraging the public to donate, saying historically low blood supplies are causing some hospitals to change treatments and cancel surgeries.

“In recent weeks, blood centers across the country have reported less than a one-day’s supply of blood of certain critical blood types—a dangerously low level,” the Red Cross said in a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies.

Normally, more than 45,000 units of blood and blood products are used daily in the United States.

“Blood donations are needed now to avert the need to postpone potential lifesaving treatments. Some hospitals have already been forced to alter treatment for some patients or cancel some patient surgeries due to blood supply challenges,” the joint statement said.

CBS News reported that one person affected by the blood shortage is Dreylan Holmes, 11, who has sickle cell disease and needs blood transfusions. In the days before Thanksgiving, he had to wait two days for a transfusion.

“It didn’t feel good having to wait when I was in pain,” he said. 

His mother, Vesha Jamison, said the wait was “very scary.” 

“That was actually the first time that we didn’t know when the blood was coming,” she told CBS News.

In a separate news release, the Red Cross said blood donations have dropped 10% since March 2020, when the COVID pandemic first gripped the United States. High school and college students provided 25% of blood donations in 2019 but gave only 10% of donations during the pandemic.

The Red Cross said all types of blood are needed, but especially Type O positive, the most common blood type; Type O negative, considered the “universal blood type” which emergency personnel often use when there’s no time to determine a patient’s blood type; and platelets, which are often given to cancer patients.

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