WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donors today in response to some 21,000 fewer donations during September and October than required to fulfill hospital needs. Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.
The Red Cross urges all eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
"Today, the Red Cross asks the American public for help. As we head into the busy holiday season, we are facing a particularly challenging situation and need blood and platelet donors to replenish the blood supply for hospital patients counting on us," said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. "Every day, we depend on the generosity of volunteers to roll up a sleeve to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for those in need, and today that need is urgent."
Help needed before the holidays
It has been a difficult fall season for blood donation collection. More than 1,000 fewer blood drives hosted by volunteer sponsors and coordinators in September and October, coupled with the widespread cancellation of scheduled drives as a result of hurricanes Michael and Florence have led to the current Red Cross blood shortage.
As we approach the holiday season, blood donation challenges will only increase. Blood donations often decline as many groups postpone blood drives, as regular donors are busy with holiday festivities and travel, which limits the availability of blood drives for people to attend. This year, AAA projects 54.3 million Americans—2.5 million more than last year--will take trips to destinations at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving holiday period of Nov. 21, 2018 through Nov. 25, 2018.
Everyday emergencies need blood donors
Emergencies of all types occur daily across the country, and when they strike, it is the blood already on the shelves that helps saves lives. Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide to meet the need.
On a seemingly ordinary day in March 2016, Jacob Lewis, then only 19-years old, experienced a horrific car accident. His car was run over by a semi-truck, leaving him with broken vertebrae, ribs, elbow and wrist, and lacerations to his spleen, liver and kidney. He was transported to Nebraska Medicine Hospital located in Omaha, Nebraska, by Life Flight. By the time Lewis arrived in Omaha, he had received 10 blood transfusions and needed multiple surgeries and four more blood transfusions.
"If that O negative hadn't been there, he wouldn't have survived," said his mother, Jennifer Lewis. Today, Lewis is 21-years-old and will soon graduate from college.
Type O negative blood is the universal blood type, and it is what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most dire situations. Blood donations cannot be stockpiled, which is why the Red Cross needs blood donors to give on a regular basis to ensure accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those receiving treatments for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell get the lifesaving treatment they need, when they need it.
Host a blood drive to address the shortage
To collect much-needed blood donations, the Red Cross asks organizations to host blood drives this coming December, January and February. More than 4,300 blood drives are needed to help stop the shortage from continuing throughout the winter.
Upwards of 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives organized by volunteer coordinators, making these hosts a vital part of the lifesaving Red Cross mission. To learn more about how to host a blood drive with the Red Cross, please visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.
Schedule an appointment to donate today
The Red Cross encourages individuals to make a donation appointment and to complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass can now be completed online at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass, on mobile devices and through the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
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.
Donors can help even more people by inviting a family member, friend or co-worker to donate too.
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.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
SOURCE American Red Cross