WASHINGTON, July 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage and today issued an emergency call for eligible individuals to donate blood or platelets as soon as possible.
Blood and platelet donations are being sent to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. In fact, donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than what is needed.
"The decline in summer donations is causing a significant draw-down of our overall blood supply, and we urgently need people to give now to restock hospital shelves and help save lives," said Shaun Gilmore, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. "Every day, patients recovering from accidents or those receiving treatments for cancer or blood disorders rely on lifesaving blood products regardless of the season."
The blood shortage is compounded around Independence Day due to many fewer blood drives, which are hosted by volunteer sponsors. With many on vacation, sponsors hold fewer blood drives at their business, place of worship, or community gathering. Nearly 700 fewer blood drives were held the week of July 4th than an average week – That's the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting blood donations at any blood drives for more than an entire day.
Blood Donation is Simpler than Many Realize
Blood or platelet donation can be intimidating and even scary for some. One of the reasons people admit to never giving blood is their fear of needles – a fear that many Red Cross donors have overcome. Individuals who are on the fence can put their hesitations aside as they hear from Red Cross blood and platelet donors how simple it is to roll up a sleeve and help save lives.
"For a first-time donor, drink plenty of fluids, and eat a good breakfast," said Red Cross blood donor Chris Hunt. "It's not difficult – you can do this!"
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.
Eligible individuals of all blood types are needed to make an appointment to give today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can help even more people by inviting a family member, friend or co-worker to donate too. The Red Cross also advises individuals to complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire to help speed up the donation process.
Donation appointments are encouraged to reduce possible wait times at blood donation sites. The Red Cross has added about 25,000 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to help accommodate an influx of donors.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.orgor cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.