The American Red Cross has extended its urgent call for donors of all blood types to give blood or platelets. With influenza escalating across the country and preventing some donors from giving, and winter weather threatening to cancel blood drives, the Red Cross now has a critical shortage of type O blood and urgently needs donors to restock the shelves.
O so needed
Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatments. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. While just 7% of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.
Help replenish the blood supply
Every day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations for patients who rely on blood to survive. Shortfalls in donations can cause delays in essential medical care for patients like 12-year-old Dagan Hawkins.
Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November, Dagan has required platelet and blood transfusions during his cancer treatments. “There was a time when they needed to have blood products delivered from another hospital because they were unavailable there,” said Dustin Hawkins, Dagan’s father.
Donors of all blood types – especially types O positive and O negative – are urged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
How to donate blood
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 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 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. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% 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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.