Red Cross facing ‘critical’ blood shortage while patient need remains high

Yakima American Red Cross Blood Shortage
Credit: David Snyder

The American Red Cross is looking for new blood donors to help address a critical post-summer blood shortage — the worst the organization has seen since 2015.

Many people delayed giving blood amid a widespread surge in COVID-19 cases attributed in part to the Delta variant, as well as a return to the workplace and in-person learning, according to a Red Cross news release.

“As cases spiked in August, blood donor participation decreased about 10%, but blood product distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks,” the release said.

Michele Roth, executive director of the American Red Cross of Central and Southeastern Washington, said blood shortages put hospitals in a difficult position because they must have a certain amount of blood on hand to perform certain procedures.

“Normally, we like to make sure that our hospitals have about a five-day blood supply,” Roth said. “There have been times over the last month where we’re getting down to where we have a day’s supply.”

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Roth said if a hospital doesn’t have the necessary blood supply on hand, they may have to delay a procedure until they can receive an emergency delivery or reschedule entirely.

“That’s why it is so important for us to make sure that we are constantly collecting those blood products, so that we do have them on hand to get them to where they need to go,” Roth said.

Roth said the organization has taken extra precautions to ensure blood donors’ safety during the pandemic, including requiring face masks and increased sanitization for frequently-touched surfaces.

Donors can give blood every 56 days and must be 16 or older, be in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. Minors need permission from a parent or guardian in order to donate.

Roth said people may not be eligible if they are ill, have certain medical conditions or are on specific medications.

“If someone’s ineligible, then we always recommend that they help spread the word, share our drives with their coworkers or their friends or their family,” Roth said. “Every time you donate blood, you can save up to three lives.”

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“As a thank-you, all those who come to donate through Sept. 30 and help tackle the emergency blood shortage will receive a limited-edition football-inspired T-shirt while supplies last, plus a coupon for a free haircut via email from Sport Clips Haircuts,” the release said.

In October, donors will receive a link by email to claim a free Zaxby’sSignature Sandwich reward or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.

Anyone wanting to donate blood or platelets by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, by calling 1-800-733-2767 or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App. People can also make appointments at any of the local blood drives being held through Oct. 15:

  • KENNEWICK
    • Oct. 5:  12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Parish, 506 S. Garfield St.
    • Oct. 7: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at American Red Cross, 7202 W. Deschutes Ave.
    • Oct. 11: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at American Red Cross, 7202 W. Deschutes Ave.
    • Oct. 12: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Meier Architecture — Engineering, 12 W. Kennewick Ave.
    • Oct. 15: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at American Red Cross, 7202 W Deschutes Ave.
  • RICHLAND
    • Sept. 28: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Battelle – Richland Community Center, 500 Amon Park Dr.
    • Oct. 4: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS Kennewick Stake Gage, 895 Gage Blvd.
    • Oct. 15: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, 888 Swift Blvd.
    • Oct. 25: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Columbia Community Church, 150 Gage Blvd.
    • Visit redcrossblood.org for more times available at the Richland Blood Donation Center, 447 Wellsian Way
  • WEST RICHLAND
    • Oct. 1: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the LDS – Keene Building. – West Richland, 1307 Watkins Way
    • Oct. 21: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the City of West Richland Service Facility, 3100 Belmont Blvd.
  • PASCO
    • Sept. 28: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the TRAC Center, 6600 Burden Blvd.
    • Oct. 8: 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Oasis Physical Therapy & Sports Pasco, 6825 Burden Blvd. Suite D
    • Oct. 13: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Chiawana High School, 8125 W. Argent Rd.
    • Oct. 18: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Sun Willow, 2535 N. 20th Ave.
  • GRANDVIEW
    • Oct. 13: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Grandview Community Center, 812 Wallace Way
  • SELAH
    • Oct. 14: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Selah Civic Center, 216 S. 1st St.
  • SUNNYSIDE
    • Oct. 28: 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at United Methodist Church Sunnyside, 906 E. Edison Ave.
  • YAKIMA
    • Oct. 11: 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at “Cheese Sandwich Day” at the Yakima Blood Donation Center, 302 S. 2nd St.
    • Oct. 25: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at West Valley Fire Department, 10000 Zier Rd.
    • Visit redcrossblood.org for more times available at Yakima Blood Donation Center, 302 S. 2nd St.
  • ZILLAH
    • Oct. 11: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Zillah Civic Center, 119 1st Ave.

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