American Red Cross facing blood shortage amid coronavirus outbreak
The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.
Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross at RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.
Here in the Penn-Jersey Region, which includes Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, 156 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 5,533 fewer blood donations.
The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.
Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need and The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country.
The blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.
“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.”
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that 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 must meet certain height and weight requirements.
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.