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The Red Cross declares a “national blood crisis”.  Here’s how to help you: NPR


A woman arrives at an American Red Cross blood drive organized to help alleviate a blood supply shortage following the coronavirus pandemic at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March 2020 in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images


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Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The Red Cross declares a “national blood crisis”.  Here’s how to help you: NPR

A woman arrives at an American Red Cross blood drive organized to help alleviate a blood supply shortage following the coronavirus pandemic at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March 2020 in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The American Red Cross says the country faces its worst blood shortage in more than a decade, citing a drop in blood drives due to the pandemic.

The organization said Tuesday that the “national blood crisis” is threatening patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult choices about who can receive blood transfusions, and it urges people to donate.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross – which supplies around 40% of the country’s blood – has had less than a day’s supply of critical blood groups and has had to limit distributions of blood products to hospitals. He says sometimes up to a quarter of hospitals’ blood needs go unmet.

What causes the shortage

There has been a significant drop in donations during the pandemic, and weather conditions and staff limitations have resulted in the continued cancellation of scheduled blood drives. There has been a 10% overall drop in blood donation since March 2020 and a 62% drop in middle and high school blood drives during the pandemic, according to the report.

This is not the first such shortage since the onset of COVID-19 – in April 2020, for example, the federal government eased restrictions on receiving blood donations from gay men because of it. described it as an unprecedented shortage of the blood supply in the United States (critics argue the ban is based on stigma rather than science in the first place). But by declaring this to be a historic crisis, officials are stepping up the urgency.

“Winter weather conditions across the country and the recent increase in COVID-19 cases are worsening the already dire blood supply situation,” Red Cross medical director Dr Baia Lasky said in a statement. . “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to donate blood or platelets in the days and weeks to come to ensure that no patient is forced to wait for intensive care. “

Donation incentives

The Red Cross is asking donors of all blood groups, but especially type O, to make an appointment now to donate in the coming weeks. He is also looking for volunteers to help with blood drives and transport blood products to hospitals.

He asks donors to consider making additional appointments in advance, because even though “reader availability may be affected, the need for blood remains constant.” Blood cannot be made or stored, he adds.

For an added incentive, the Red Cross is teaming up with the NFL this month, which is National Blood Donor Month. Those who donate blood, platelets or plasma will be automatically entered for a chance to win two tickets to the next Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, as well as a home theater package and a $ 500 electronic gift card for watch the game at home.

You can make an appointment to donate blood or platelets through the Red Cross Blood Donor App, the organization’s website, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. There are also regional and community blood banks across the country.

Here’s what to do before, during and after your date.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Morning edition live blog.


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