US National Blood Supply Decreases

The American Red Cross said they had a shortage of blood supply. Officials say certain blood types are in less than a day’s supply.

Andy, a blood donor, visits the American Red Cross blood donation center in Washington DC.

“My mother is a nurse, and she donates blood regularly, and she always talks about it. She works at the hospital, and mentioned this a few weeks ago. I didn’t have much to do today, so I decided to come,” he explained.

Shaun Brennan from Memphis, Tennessee regularly donates blood for the American Red Cross. He has been donating blood for more than thirty years.

“It started in the 1990s when a coworker was about to leave the office during his lunch break. We chatted, and he said he wanted to donate blood. I’ve never done that before, so I asked a few questions. And a week later I made an appointment to donate blood. I say – ‘Wow, I can do this.’ Then I made an appointment once again. And without realizing it I had donated blood 500 times!,” he explained.

Bags filled with blood donated by donors are stored in the refrigerator at the American Red Cross office in Santa Monica, California, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Bags filled with blood donated by donors are stored in the refrigerator at the American Red Cross office in Santa Monica, California, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Despite accepting blood donations from thousands of Americans, U.S. blood banks lack certain blood types.

According to the Red Cross, the number of blood donors in the US fell 10 percent in August 2021.

“We are experiencing the lowest inventory levels since 2015. And for certain groups, the supply is less than a day. Ideally, we have a supply of five days,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, Director of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross officials say donors have been less active since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Now more people focus on other activities after a long silence at home.

Now, the rise in Delta virus cases has brought new challenges to the blood donation movement. So are new restrictions and concerns.

“We used to hold blood donation activities in high schools, college campuses, sporting events, businesses, and now our ability to collect blood in those places is affected due to some restrictions,” added Dr. Baia Lasky.

Lasky said the Red Cross serves about 40 percent of US hospitals, making blood scarcity a national issue.

A woman donates her blood at Chase Field, Phoenix, April 28, 2020.

A woman donates her blood at Chase Field, Phoenix, April 28, 2020.

“I worked here at Carter Blod Care for 13 years and in these 13 years my role has been to work directly with the hospitals we serve and with patients in need. I’ve never seen supply conditions this bad,” said Veronica Moore, Carter BloodCare.

Both the Red Cross and regional blood banks encourage people to donate blood.

“We clean the arm, pinch slightly to insert the needle, and then draw blood for about five to eight minutes. You have a snack and you’re done!,” explains Jodi Sheedy of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross appealed to people to donate blood while they adjust to the new routine, while working throughout the day to meet hospital demands. [nm/jm]

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