Red Cross Declares Emergency Blood Shortage as Donations Plummet
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Red Cross Declares Emergency Blood Shortage as Donations Plummet

Key Takeaways

  • The American Red Cross is alerting Americans to a national blood shortage emergency

  • Blood donations have steadily dropped by 40% over the past two decades

  • Besides helping to save a life, your donation might win you a trip for two to this year's Superbowl

MONDAY, Jan. 8, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- With donations falling to the lowest levels in 20 years, the American Red Cross declared a national blood shortage on Sunday. 

“One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. 

“A person needs lifesaving blood every two seconds in our country — and its availability can be the difference between life and death, however, blood is only available thanks to the generosity of those who roll up a sleeve to donate," she said in a Red Cross news release.

An upsurge in donors of blood and platelets is needed immediately. 

There's an added incentive right now: Donating gives you a chance for free tickets to this year's Super Bowl, courtesy of the NFL.

You can sign up to donate now by visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) to find your local donation center.

Americans' blood donations have charted a steady decline over the past two decades, dropping by about 40% during that time, according to the Red Cross. 

That leads to crises like the 7,000-unit shortfall in donations that occurred between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Winter is typically a tough time for donations, with bad weather or illnesses like colds, flu or COVID keeping people away from donation centers.

Add to that the shift by many Americans to remote work, which makes donation less convenient for many, the Red Cross said. 

Finally, new blood donation protocols, such as raising minimum hemoglobin requirements, have meant fewer people (especially teens) are eligible to donate.  

All of this adds up to potential trouble for hospitalized patients like 9-year-old Finn Ward. He's been diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia since 2021.

Finn has already received “more [blood] products than I ever thought one person could take” his mom Ivy said in a Red Cross news release. “Just in the last two years, he received more than 25 blood products and he’s just one kid."

She joined the call for more donors.

“The hospital floors are full of kids that need that blood and would otherwise not be able to survive without it," Ivy said. “Without donated blood products, Finn wouldn’t be here today."

Ready to donate? Take your blood donor card plus a driver's license or two other forms of identification to check in at a donation center.

"Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood," the Red Cross said. "High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements."

And don't forget that chance to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

More information

Find out how you can speed the process of donation at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass .

SOURCE: American Red Cross, news release, Jan. 8, 2024

What This Means For You

U.S. blood donations have dropped to record lows. Do what you can now to donate blood and help ease a national shortage.

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