American Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood Donors Now
Blood and platelet donors of all types needed
The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. This shortfall leaves the Red Cross with half the readily available blood products on hand now than this time last year.
The Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors – now more than ever – to roll up a sleeve and give as soon as possible. All blood types are needed, but especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative in order to meet patient demand this summer.
An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets. In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.
Unfortunately, patients don’t get a holiday from needing blood products. The need is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood and platelets are needed for many different reasons, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies – when there are complications during childbirth – and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
“Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Of that, the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region must collect approximately 800 pints per day,” said Scott Caswell, CEO of the American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region, serving areas of Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. “We need donors to make appointments in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure that all patient blood needs can be met. Each pint of whole blood can help save more than one life.”
“There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren’t readily available or, in a worst case scenario, have to forego a more serious procedure because of a shortage of blood.” Caswell added. “Our goal is to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
Consider the story of St. Charles, MO, woman Sally Armour. Armour was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia in 1996. Almost immediately after receiving the news, Armour began a treatment that involved use of an American Red Cross apheresis machine, a machine that collects blood from a donor or patient and separates the blood’s components. Armour says she would not be here today, and likely would not have even made it past the first day, without that machine.
“My white (blood cell) count was so high that the doctor said I would have lived only six more hours had I not (received the apheresis treatment).”
But she did survive that day, and each day after thanks to chemotherapy and several transfusions of blood and platelets. Armour has lost count of how many transfusions she received, but knows it’s upwards of 25.
Armour’s story highlights just how important each and every blood donation can be. Because of that, the Red Cross is extending blood drive hours and reaching out to eligible blood donors, sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients in communities across the United States.
Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.