For the first time, the American Red Cross has announced a national blood crisis.
“It’s being deemed as the worst blood shortage in over a decade,” Angel Montez, Red Cross regional donor services executive said. “I can tell all of you that I’ve been with this organization for 18 years and I haven’t seen it this bad.”
The Red Cross provides about 40% of the nation’s blood supply, but in recent weeks it has not had the inventory.
“We’ve had less than a one day supply of critical blood types,” Montez said.
This impacts hospitals and hospital patients more than anyone, and 25% of hospital blood needs are not being met nationwide.
“The blood shortage has become so dire that we can no longer get the quantity or type of blood required for every patient who needs it, and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions,” Dr. Rachel Cook, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute quality medical director said. “We now have had to prioritize our limited supply for those who need it most.”
According to St. Charles spokesperson Lisa Goodman, the hospital is doing everything possible to conserve blood while still taking care of patient needs.
NATIONAL BLOOD CRISIS: The Red Cross is facing a dire situation & is issuing a plea for donors to give blood or platelets immediately to help overcome its worst blood shortage in 10+ years. Donors of all blood types, especially O, are needed. Sign up now: https://t.co/KEvxIDzbWp pic.twitter.com/O8JemAcV16
— Red Cross Cascades (@RedCrossCasc) January 12, 2022
“Our current supply of O negative and O positive blood is below normal, but adequate for our current needs,” Goodman said. “However, if we have a huge surge in blood use, it could take many days for us to get our stock back up to normal.”
Goodman says a surge could come from a severe hemorrhage in a single patient, several fairly severe patients, or just a large number of more typical patients.
Blood donations cannot happen without donors, and lack of blood drives during the pandemic is proving to be a barrier.
“Here in the state of Oregon and Washington, we average about 35 blood drives a day and collect between 500 and 700 units of blood,” Montez said. “The Red Cross has experienced a 10% decline in blood donations during this pandemic.”
St. Charles tells us the Red Cross will add more blood types to its allocation system starting Monday.
Meaning the shortage will include other blood types, not just O negative and O positive.
You can find Red Cross donation sites near you here.