The emergency need for lifesaving blood continues this summer as the nation confronts a severe blood shortage due to a rise in hospital demand for blood products. The American Red Cross urges those who are healthy and able, to donate now.
The Red Cross is distributing more blood products to hospitals across the country compared to the same time last year. Over the past three months, the Red Cross has sent 12% more blood products to hospitals each day to help patients in need. Hospitals are responding to a higher number of traumas and emergency room visits and seeing patients who postposed medical care earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While generous individuals across the country have rolled up a sleeve to help hospital patients, unfortunately, the Red Cross continues to face a severe blood shortage,” said Paul Sullivan, senior vice president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Right now, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 1,000 additional blood donations each day, above the average target, to meet current hospital demand. It’s critical that we increase the number of blood donations to match the growing need for blood to ensure every patient receives the medical treatments they need without delay.”
Healthy individuals are urged to please schedule 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).
All blood types are needed, particularly type O, as well as platelets. With only about a day supply of type O blood, there is an emergency need for type O donors. Type O is the most needed blood group by hospitals.
In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.
Who blood helps
June 28, 2021, should have been a momentous date for David Beverley of Magna, Utah. That was the day surgery was scheduled for the young man to donate the right side of his liver to his father Peter, suffering from non-alcoholic liver disease. But the life-saving surgery never took place.
“The day before the surgery, my health advocate called saying the surgery might need to be postponed,” David said. “Then the transplant surgeon called to confirm that because of a nationwide blood shortage, the surgery had to be canceled.”
This startling news wasn’t anything David or Peter could have anticipated, even after all the ups and downs the family had experienced over the past year of Peter’s many serious health issues. “The doctor said he was shocked, too, and that in all his years, he’d never had to postpone critical surgery due to lack of required blood,” Peter said.
The family had already shifted their lives dramatically to plan for the scheduled procedure, but postponing has demanded even bigger adjustments. “Of course, I don’t want my dad to have to wait any longer, but in addition, my wife and I are parents to two wonderful boys aged 2 and 4, with a baby girl coming along in September,” said David. “The postponement pushes my recovery into when the baby is due to be born, making things even more stressful.”
David and Peter realize they aren’t the only ones who have been affected by this blood shortage. Many others across the country have had to postpone surgeries and procedures for the same reason. “My new surgery date is July 27,” said Peter, “but I can't help but be a little worried that the shortage might still be a problem by then.”
David admits that his siblings and he had been avid blood donors in the past, “but as life got more complex, we just didn't have the time in our schedules to go anymore.” After everything they’ve experienced, however, he has learned a great lesson about taking time for important things.
“I really want this surgery to happen so that my father will be here, and my kids can have an amazing grandfather in their lives,” said David. So, when friends, family, and acquaintances ask what they can do to help, David adamantly tells every one of them, “Dust off the donor cards and donate blood!”
A special thank you to those who come to give
To thank donors who help during this critical time, those who come to donate with the Red Cross Aug. 1-31, 2021, will receive a free 4-month subscription offer to Apple Music by email (new subscribers only). Additionally, those who come to give Aug. 1-15, 2021, will automatically be entered for a chance to win an exclusive, VIP trip for two to the sold-out 2021 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN (Sept. 1-6, 2021).
ABOUT BLOOD DONATION 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.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.