(Nov. 13, 2018) — The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage and urgently needs blood and platelet donors to give now to avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients. Volunteer blood drive hosts are also critically needed to prevent the shortage from worsening this winter.
During September and October, the Red Cross collected over 21,000 fewer blood and platelet donations than what hospitals needed. Blood donors of all blood types, especially type O, and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to donate at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Fewer blood drives in September and October coupled with hurricanes Michael and Florence, which caused thousands of blood and platelet donations to go uncollected, were key contributing factors to the current blood shortage.
“This time of year, as many give thanks for family, friends and good health, it’s important to remember that patients across the country cannot survive without your generosity,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “From traumas to ongoing cancer treatments, the need for blood doesn’t stop for the holidays. People can give back – and help those in need – by making a lifesaving blood or platelet donation now and hosting a blood drive in the weeks to come.”
An additional 4,300 blood drives nationally needed in December, January and February to help stop the shortage from continuing throughout winter. Donations often decline during the winter holidays when many groups postpone blood drives while regular donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. Severe winter weather may also cause blood drive cancellations contributing to fewer donations than needed.
To encourage donations around the Thanksgiving holiday, those who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross Nov. 21-24 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
How to help
Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass, are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.
Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this winter, by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.
Who blood donations help
Kylee Durham, 11, had a rare type of vascular tumor in her right jaw bone. When the tumor ruptured in August, the hemorrhage caused Kylee to lose so much blood that she needed two units of blood before an emergency embolization surgery to stop the bleeding. She required additional transfusions during surgery and received a total of eight units of blood, or about the total blood volume of an average adult, over a 12-hour period. The surgery was successful, and Kylee had a partial resection of her jaw a couple of days after the embolization to remove the tumor. Now a few months post-surgery, Kylee is back at home, enjoying middle school and spending time doing the things she loves. Her mother, Brittany Durham, is grateful for the donors who helped save Kylee’s life. “If it weren’t for blood donors, my daughter would not be alive. She nearly lost all of her blood. Blood donors saved her life,” said Durham. “My dad has been a blood donor for years, and my whole family now are blood donors in honor of Kylee. I encourage people on a daily basis to go out and donate blood.”
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 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 CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.