The American Red Cross currently has an emergency blood and platelet shortage as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge the nation’s blood supply. Donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year, with September and October having the lowest national blood inventory levels in more than a decade.
The Red Cross continues to experience a strong demand for blood products by hospitals despite the low donor turnout, causing concern for the availability of blood products for patients throughout the fall and winter months.
Kendra Schutte, a two-time breast cancer survivor, knows firsthand the critical role blood donors have played during the pandemic. In March 2020, after being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and enduring 24 weeks of chemotherapy, a lab test revealed her blood counts dropped to 0.1, lower than the normal range.
At the time, the Red Cross was facing a nationwide blood shortage due to blood drive cancellations in response to the pandemic. However, thanks to generous blood donors, Kendra received two lifesaving units of blood, helping her blood counts dramatically increase to 13 by the end of the week.
Today, Kendra is cancer free. Yet, her family’s gratitude and commitment to supporting other patients in need of blood transfusion remain despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.
“I know we’re in need of blood, not just for cancer patients, but for everyone,” said Kendra. “It’s quick, easy and you can help save someone’s life by donating blood. My husband, Michael, gives Power Reds and he also volunteers with Red Cross as a blood transportation specialist, delivering blood wherever it needs to go. He enjoys it.”
Donating blood is essential to help save the lives of patients who are depending on the availability of blood this fall. Type O is the most needed blood group by hospitals. Platelets, the clotting portion of blood, is primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and must be transfused within five days of donation.
Eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O blood, are needed to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets to ensure critical patient needs are met.
Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Those who come to donate in October will receive a link by email for a free Zaxby’s® Signature Sandwich or a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of your choice. Plus, presenting donors will also receive a bonus $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.** Terms and conditions apply, RedCrossBlood.org/Zaxbys
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to ensure the health of all those in attendance.
How to donate blood
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.