American Red Cross Facing a Blood Shortage, Urgent Need for Donations

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American Red Cross Blood Shortage

The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage and is encouraging all eligible donors to donate.

“All eligible donors are encouraged to make and keep donation appointments to help prevent an emergency situation,” the agency wrote in a news release declaring the shortage Tuesday.

“The number of donors continues to decline and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks,” the Red Cross said in an announcement.

“Donations through the Red Cross are down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected,” the agency said in a statement released Tuesday.

In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week when only 3,450 drives occurred. This year, July Fourth fell on a Friday, cutting the number of blood drives the Red Cross could schedule for early July as volunteers went on vacation.

Blood Shortage 2014

While “all eligible donors” are being urged to give blood, types O negative, B negative and A negative are especially needed, the Red Cross said. Type O is the “universal” blood type, which can be safely used by anyone needing a transfusion.

Also needed are platelets, which allow blood to clot and are often needed by cancer patients, bone marrow recipients and burn victims. These patients need to be given these platelets within five days of donation, so it’s essential that a fresh supply of donated platelets always be on hand, the Red Cross said.

“Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they’re relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead,” said Page Gambill, CEO, for the Red Cross Mid-Atlantic Blood Services Region. “Please, consider giving the gift of life. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need – and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood.”

The agency reminds Americans that blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days, up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), 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.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood through American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org.

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