While every year, particularly during the winter months, the nation experiences shortages in donated blood supply, 2021 is proving to be a historic year in both low supply levels as well as staffing shortages.
The winter months usually bring on lower donations and an overall lower supply of blood and plasma. The holiday season brings on more travel as well as cold and flu season, both of which have an effect on the blood supply. Inclement weather can also have a negative effect on the nation’s blood supply.
The Red Cross is currently calling on Americans to step up and donate at a time when the organization is reporting “historically low” blood supply levels. In fact, many of the blood centers across the United States are reporting less than one day’s supply of blood in their possession.
A spokesperson for Red Cross told Fox Business anchors on Wednesday that, if the supply is not increased soon, people could be at risk of not receiving transfusions when necessary. While the Red Cross is encouraging people of all blood types to donate, they are in particular need of donations from those with type O blood. The spokesperson also encouraged individuals to consider donating platelets as well.
“Platelets are needed now to avert the need to potentially postpone lifesaving treatments,” according to the Red Cross.
Earlier in December, the Red Cross issued a joint statement in part with the AABB – the Association for Blood and Biotherapies – as well as America’s Blood Centers. In America, over 45,000 units of blood are needed on a daily basis, and throughout the course of any given year, over 16 million units of blood and/or blood products are utilized in transfusions. Adding to the urgency for willing donors is the fact that processing blood once it’s donated often takes up to three days before it can be administered to a patient.
The Red Cross points to the pandemic as a major factor in the lower donor turnout in addition to typical winter time issues that affect the rate of donation. In addition, individuals are working remotely and schools and businesses that usually welcome the mobile blood banks may not be operating as usual. Many blood drives have also been cancelled due to staff shortages, an issue which the organization is working to resolve.
The Red Cross is looking to recruit phlebotomists as a means of increasing their available staff for blood drives.
Unfortunately, some misinformation is being disseminated regarding one’s ability to donate blood after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The Red Cross wishes for the public to know that if an individual has taken any of the authorized vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson or Moderna, that person is eligible to donate as long as said individual is symptom-free at the time of donation.
To learn how to donate blood: Click Here