The American Red Cross has declared a “national blood crisis” as the US faces its worst blood shortage in over a decade, predominantly due to a drop in blood drives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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. If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” the Red Cross said in a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies.
Since March 2020, there has been a 10% overall blood donation decline across the nation. The pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives across schools and colleges. A surge in Covid-19 cases as well as winter storms have disrupted blood donation processes.
“As these concerns compound, blood centers nationwide continue to face a decline in donor turnout, blood drive cancellations, staffing challenges and donor eligibility misinformation,” the statement said.
As a result of the shortage, the Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the country’s blood supply, has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. According to the organization, some hospitals may not receive one in four blood products they need.
Doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will be required to wait until more blood products become available.
The Red Cross has urged donors of all blood types – particularly type O – to make appointments now to donate in the coming weeks. It said that people who have received a US-authorized Covid-19 vaccine, including those from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, can donate blood and platelets, so long as they have no symptoms and feel well.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross and the National Football League have partnered up for National Blood Donor Month in efforts to encourage individuals to donate blood and platelets. According to the Red Cross, those who came to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will have a chance to win a trip to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles in February.
Those who donate could also win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card.
In addition to calling for donors, the Red Cross has also urged the public to volunteer and support blood collection efforts across the country.