Red Cross urges blood donations amid severe shortage

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A blood donation is seen in footage shared by the American Red Cross on June 15, 2021.

A blood donation is seen in footage shared by the American Red Cross on June 15, 2021.

The American Red Cross said Tuesday that it’s experiencing a severe nationwide blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise.

People of all blood types, especially type O and those giving platelets, are urged to donate as soon as possible to prevent delays to critical patient care, the nonprofit’s Los Angeles chapter said in a news release.

To schedule an appointment to donate blood, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Those who donate blood from Tuesday through June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Amazon. More information is available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” said Dr. Ross Herron, divisional chief medical officer for the Red Cross. “Please consider blood donation as a summer activity that can help save lives.”

Hospitals are responding to an “atypically high number” of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants, according to the nonprofit.

The Red Cross says it has seen demand from trauma centers climb by 10% from 2019 to 2021 — more than five times the increase of other facilities that provide blood transfusions.  

In addition to the needs of trauma centers, there is great demand for blood donations at hospitals as people who deferred care during the height of the coronavirus pandemic have more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions, officials said.

Over the last three months, the Red Cross said it distributed about 75,000 more blood products than expected. As a result of the shortage, some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until blood supply stabilizes.

“Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled, so it must constantly be replenished by generous blood donors,” the organization said.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can still donate blood. Knowing the name of the vaccine manufacturer is important in determining donation eligibility.

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