The American Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations on Wednesday as donations are being sent to hospitals faster than they are coming in. In fact, donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than what is needed.
“The decline in summer donations is causing a significant draw-down of our overall blood supply, and we urgently need people to give now to restock hospital shelves and help save lives,” said Shaun Gilmore, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Every day, patients recovering from accidents or those receiving treatments for cancer or blood disorders rely on lifesaving blood products regardless of the season.”
The blood shortage is compounded around Independence Day due to many fewer blood drives, which are hosted by volunteer sponsors. With many on vacation, sponsors hold fewer blood drives at their business, place of worship, or community gathering. Nearly 700 fewer blood drives were held the week of July 4th than an average week which is the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting blood donations at any blood drives for more than an entire day.
While officials acknowledge that blood or platelet donation can be intimidating as one of the reasons people admit to never giving blood is their fear of needles, the organization is faced with the reality that every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
The Red Cross said it needs to collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country and has added about 25,000 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to help accommodate an influx of donors.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.