Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Red Cross: Weather, travel contributing to blood shortage

The American Red Cross has declared a national blood supply emergency, citing weather and travel as reasons for the shortfall.

The organization said that national blood supply levels have fallen by nearly 25 percent since early August, which potentially threatens those who need emergency blood and those who rely on blood transfusions for conditions like cancer and sickle cell disease.

The organization noted that climate driven disasters have “further strained” the supply and is calling on donors of all blood types to step up.

Specifically, the Red Cross said that there is an emergency need for platelet donors and type O blood donors to make an appointment.

“For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don’t stop with natural disasters,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross. “In fact, in some instances the stress of a disaster can lead to a medical crisis for some individuals battling sickle cell disease.”

“The need for blood is constant,” Young added. “Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — an often-invisible emergency that the rest of the world doesn’t see behind closed hospital doors. Now, that urgency has only heightened.”

The Red Cross said Hurricane Idalia — which slammed the southeast U.S. last month — caused more than 700 units of blood to go uncollected. It also said it is monitoring Hurricane Lee, which could impact people in the northeast later this week and further strain the blood supply.

It said that in August alone, there was a 30,000-donation shortfall due to a busy travel season and back-to-school activities.

The Red Cross has been experiencing blood supply shortages in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered many of its donation drives at the time.

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