Blood donations have fallen drastically in the past 2 months, leaving The Red Cross, which provides about 40 percent of blood supply to hospitals, in desperate need of donors.
The organization reported that it received roughly 37,000 fewer donations than usual in the months of November and December. The shortage in turn out—likely the result of bad weather conditions and the hectic nature of the holiday season—meant that those who would typically go out of their way to donate did not get the opportunity.
Furthermore, multiple blood drives were shut down in the Midwest because of severe weather and snowstorms, so even those who had intentions of braving a storm just to give blood did not have the option to do so. In parts of Minnesota because nearly 100 blood drives were cancelled, and more than 3,000 blood donations went uncollected.
Nick Gehrig, communications director at Red Cross Blood Services reported that “blood and platelet donations are critically needed in the coming days so that patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatments they are counting on.” He added that, “right now, blood and platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.”
Making a donation usually takes about an hour, and this unit of blood has the opportunity to save the lives of up to three patients. Especially during this shortage, it’s also important to recognize that platelets and plasma are just as significant to donate. Both are involved in the blood clotting process, helping patients with severe injuries. Additionally, plasma is particularly helpful for burn victims.
The need for blood, platelets and plasma is continuous. It is going to take thousands of volunteers in order to reverse this shortage.
Want to donate blood and help save people in need?
You can find blood drives near you, as well as schedule an appointment to donate, by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Photo: Kentucky Country Day, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.