Hospital demand for blood products increases by 30% as surgical procedures and patient treatments resume
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 27, 2020 – The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to help prevent another blood shortage as hospitals resume all surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused earlier this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, hospital demand for blood products has significantly increased by 30%, following a sharp decline in demand from early April amid this rapidly changing and complex environment.
There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus, and the Red Cross urgently needs the help of donors and blood drive hosts to ensure blood products are readily available for patients. To schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross visit RedCrossBlood.org, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or activate the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
“During this crisis, we’re all in this together, and the Red Cross is grateful to the tens of thousands of donors who rolled up a sleeve in response to our blood storage caused by the outbreak, said Chris Hrouda, president, American Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Blood donors are essential to ensuring the continued health of their community by making sure hospitals have a readily available supply of blood products for patients. Blood cannot be stockpiled like other medical supplies and must be constantly replenished.”
Unfortunately, many blood drives continue to be canceled as businesses and community organizations remain closed. This has impacted the Red Cross’s ability to collect the nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations required to meet the daily needs of patients at hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
All those who come to donate through May 31 will receive a special Red Cross T-shirt by mail, while supplies last. And thanks to Amazon, all those who come to give June 1-30 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email.*
A lifesaving difference
Alexis Jarret has battled sickle cell disease her whole life and depends on blood transfusions to help her manage the disease. Because she has received over 30 blood transfusions, her body has built up antibodies that make it challenging to find a suitable blood type match. At the end of March, Jarrett suffered a sickle cell crisis and needed an emergency blood transfusion—unfortunately, due to the blood shortage, it took the hospital two days to find a blood type match.
When blood finally became available, she was relieved. “The whole time, I was suffering, but the blood was an almost immediate help. I could feel it immediately,” said Jarrett.
Over a month later she is still recovering and hopes to stay healthy. Jarrett urges diverse blood donors to give as they play a vital role in ensuring all patient needs are met — especially those with sickle cell.
“When issues like COVID-19 happen, they seem so big. We don’t understand how our little bit can help," she said. “But for me, your little bit means a lot. You are helping make a difference and helping my life continue on.”
Blood Drive Safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, precautions include:
- Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
- Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drives, as well as throughout the donation process.
- Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.
- Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors.
- Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor touched areas.
- Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often.
- Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control public guidance.
About Blood Donation
In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (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.
To save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive, donors are encourage to complete a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.