'Definitely a crisis' - Red Cross calls for blood donations as supplies run dangerously low
The American Red Cross has declared its first-ever national blood crisis, saying its supply levels are dangerously low.
This isn't the first time the American Red Cross has reached out to the public for donors due to low blood supplies. But this time it's on another level – the worst shortage in over a decade and one that could affect patient care.
"We have less than one-day supply of blood for the entire nation," said American Red Cross Metro New York North chapter CEO Stephanie Dunn Ashley. "This is definitely a crisis."
It's a critical scenario given the Red Cross provides 40% of the country's blood supply. But the pandemic has caused a decline in donor turnout, the cancellation of blood drives and staffing shortages.
The Red Cross says it's had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals as a result of the shortage.
"Whether or not it's a trauma surgeon who needs blood for a trauma case, it's a woman who has complications from childbirth, it's a person suffering from cancer or any diseases such as sickle cell - blood is needed," said Dunn Ashley.
That means important medical treatments could be delayed if more donors don't come forward in the coming weeks.
"Almost anyone can give blood. There's a questionnaire to fill out. If you've had COVID, you can still give blood, as long as you don't have any symptoms. There's patients who have a need for every type of blood available. O is our universal," she said.
January is National Blood Donor Month. If you give blood anytime through Jan. 31, you'll be entered to win a trip to the Super Bowl.
In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross says it also needs the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections.