Current U.S. Blood Supply is Adequate to Handle Demands Resulting from Earthquake in Haiti

Jan 22, 2010, 13:19 ET from AABB

Future Appointments Are Encouraged to Maintain Supply; Type O-Negative Donors Especially Sought

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The AABB Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism has determined that the current blood supply in the United States is adequate to fill any requests received to support the present needs of Haitian hospitals, though ongoing infrastructure and transportation issues in Haiti could delay receipt of those supplies to patients.  To help ensure that the U.S. blood supply remains adequate, the task force recommends that people wanting to donate call their local blood donation centers to schedule an appointment for the coming weeks and months, especially eligible donors who are Type O-negative.  The task force will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if blood needs change.

"U.S. blood banks have enough blood to meet the immediate medical needs of Haiti earthquake victims," said Dale Malloy, chairman of the task force.  "We are in contact with health care organizations in Haiti, and task force members are diligently working to overcome the logistical challenges to ensure that vital, yet perishable, blood products reach the patients in Haiti."

Individuals with Type O blood are "universal" donors and should schedule a blood donation appointment as soon as possible. Type O blood is the only blood type that can be safely transfused to patients with other blood types, and therefore is frequently used in emergency situations.  The task force applauds those wishing to help and encourages all eligible individuals to give blood regularly, as this helps ensure that blood is readily available whenever and wherever it is needed.  

Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations to find a local blood collection site and to schedule an appointment:

The task force was formed in January 2002 to help make certain that blood collection efforts resulting from domestic disasters and acts of terrorism are managed properly and to deliver clear and consistent messages to the public regarding the status of America's blood supply.  The task force is composed of representatives from U.S. blood services, associations and commercial entities, as well as liaisons from governmental agencies, who work together in an effort to ensure that safe and adequate blood product inventories are in place at all times in preparation for disasters such as the recent event in Haiti.  In addition, the task force operates as a mechanism to assess the need for collections and/or transportation of blood should a disaster occur.

AABB serves as the designated coordinating entity for the task force.  In addition to AABB, members include AdvaMed, America's Blood Centers, American Association of Tissue Banks, American Hospital Association, American Red Cross, Blood Centers of America, College of American Pathologists, National Marrow Donor Program and the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association.  Liaisons from the following government agencies also participate in task force discussions: Armed Services Blood Program and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

In the event of an emergency, AABB immediately convenes a meeting of task force representatives.  Local blood center(s) are responsible for ascertaining medical needs based on casualty estimates using pre-determined formulas, assessing available local supply, and communicating that information to the interorganizational task force.

In a disaster, the first priorities of the task force are to:

  • Verify and communicate to the blood community the medical need for blood;
  • Identify sites with existing excess blood inventory;
  • Determine the need, if any, for blood shipment and the logistics of such shipments; and
  • Develop public messages and facilitate the discussion of donor issues.

About AABB

Established in 1947, AABB is an international, not-for-profit association dedicated to the advancement of science and the practice of transfusion medicine and related biological therapies. The association is committed to improving health by developing and delivering standards, accreditation and educational programs and services to optimize patient and donor care and safety.  AABB membership consists of approximately 1,800 institutions and 8,000 individuals, including physicians, scientists, administrators, medical technologists, nurses, researchers, blood donor recruiters and public relations personnel.  Members are located in all 50 states and 80 countries. For more information, please visit