Red Cross announces national crisis due to the ‘worst blood shortage in more than a decade’

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Officials with the American Red Cross said they are facing a dangerously low blood supply leading to crisis levels as donations drop due to the pandemic.

“It’s the worst blood shortage in more than a decade,” a news release said.

Betsy Robertson, the regional communications director for the Red Cross NW, said it’s a concerning issue that impacts everyone.

“It’s very scary because when you need blood. you need it and you need it right now,” Robertson said.

The Red Cross supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood. But due to COVID-19, there’s been a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating, as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations.

“Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges,” the release said.

Over the next month, about 64% of donation appointments are still unfilled in central and southeast Washington.

“In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met,” the release said.

Robertson added that this means the decision for who gets the blood falls “into the hands of those caregivers and those service providers.

“They make decisions about who is able to receive blood and who maybe has to wait until the next shipment comes in,” Robertson said.

To encourage people to donate, those who give in January “will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles and will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card,” the release said.

Donors of all blood types but especially type O are urged to make appointments immediately.

To make an appointment, use the Red Cross Blood Donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or click here.

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