The United States’ blood supply is low enough to declare a national blood crisis for the first time. According to the Red Cross, America’s blood supply is currently hovering at very low levels.
COVID Pandemic Reduces Blood Donor Turnout, Leads to National Blood Crisis
According to the American Red Cross, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the worst blood shortage in America for more than ten years. Due to coronavirus fears, Americans became less inclined to donate blood.
In addition, concerns for infection led to the cancellation of many planned blood drives. Plus, the organization also reported a decline in available staff to work on blood donations.
All these combined to produce the US’s worst blood shortage in a decade. In fact, the Red Cross reported a 34% decline in new donors in 2020.
Red Cross Struggling to Provide Blood To Hospitals
How bad is the situation? Blood centers across the country reported that they only have one-day supplies of some blood types.
The organization warned Americans that if the country’s blood supply can’t stabilize, many patients will find it difficult to source life-saving blood products.
The Red Cross issued this National Blood Crisis warning in a statement. America's Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies joined the Red Cross in issuing the statement.
All hospitals need blood for surgeries, transplants, treatments, and chronic illnesses. During this historic shortage, the Red Cross said that they are finding it difficult to give hospitals all the blood products they need.
This means that in some cases, doctors need to make the decisions on who gets available blood. For the others, they will have to wait until more supplies arrive.
Even Health Centers Calling In Blood Shortages
The national blood crisis extends even to private medical centers. Healthcare provider Vitalant, which services 900 hospitals across 28 states, confirmed the blood supply shortage.
The company announced that it’s experiencing a historic, two-year low blood supply. At present, the Omicron surge is canceling many community blood drives as well as reducing the number of ready donors.
The situation is so dire that despite the current pandemic, Vitalant is calling for blood donors to volunteer and make an appointment in the next few days.
As a special thank you, Vitalant will also celebrate National Blood Donor Month by entering all donors into their $5,000 Big Game Giveaway. Four lucky donors will win $5,000 worth of prepaid gift cards redeemable by email.
According to Vitalant’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo, vaccinated Americans should donate once they complete their vaccine.
“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” he said. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today.
Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies,” he added,
The National Blood Crisis Continues
Meanwhile, Dr. Jennifer Andrews, the medical director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center blood bank, also pleaded for help.
She said the hospital's blood supply is dire. Andrews explained that a lower blood supply means the hospital can't care for patients in the same way.
“Nobody wakes up in the morning and plans on being the next trauma patient. So this literally could affect you or your family members and your loved ones,” she said.
The officials urged Americans who are thinking about donating blood to do so now. For Americans who wish to donate blood but want to know how to do so safely amid the pandemic, please contact the American Red Cross directly. They can refer you to the nearest safe blood center that can accept your blood donations.
Watch the American Red Cross video calling on volunteers to donate blood: Red Cross national blood supply crisis: Blood donors needed now!
What do you think of the ongoing National Blood Crisis? Do you think it’s safe to volunteer to give blood at this time? If not, what are the alternatives?
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