The American Red Cross is experiencing a historically low blood supply and is desperately seeking donations around the country. Reports indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented declines in donor turnout. Blood drives have also been postponed or canceled nationwide in the last two years because of lockdown mandates and staffing shortages.
According to reports from CBS News, the Red Cross suffered a 34 percent decline in new donors in 2021.
The Red Cross issued a joint press statement with the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies and America’s Blood Centers that said if America’s blood supply does not return to a stable level soon, some patients may not be able to receive life-saving blood when they need it.
On Tuesday, The Hill reported that the Red Cross supply has fallen below one day’s need of several critical blood types. Currently, as much as one-fourth of hospital blood needs across the country are going unfulfilled.
The Red Cross is calling for the public to make appointments for donations of “critically needed” blood and platelets so that further delays in vital medical treatments might be avoided.
Red Cross medical director Baia Lasky said that the combination of winter weather and the omicron variant surge of COVID-19 cases compounds the “already-dire situation” of the organization’s blood supply. Lasky asked everyone to “please, if you are eligible, make an appointment” for a donation in the coming days to help make sure no one has to wait for critical health care.
The New York Times has reported that the critical shortages began in March 2020 as the COVID pandemic first deeply affected all parts of American life. Red Cross president of biomedical services Chris Hrouda told the paper that the current crisis is the largest challenge he has faced in 30 years of work in the industry. Hrouda said that the organization would like to have a three-day inventory in the blood supply currently but is struggling now to maintain one day.
Anyone interested in scheduling a blood donation has been asked to contact the Red Cross.