Your Health

Red Cross issues emergency call for donors

A donation shortfall over the winter holidays has prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care.

The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. During the period, volunteer sponsor groups hosted approximately 1,350 fewer blood drives than required to meet patient needs, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

“Many people may not realize that blood products are perishable, and the only source of lifesaving blood for patients is volunteer blood donors,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “When donations decline – as they did around the holidays and may further decline if severe winter weather and flu season pick up – lifesaving medical treatments could be delayed.”

The Red Cross currently has less than a three-day supply of most blood types on hand, well below the ideal five-day supply needed to respond to emergencies and daily hospital needs.

All eligible donors – especially platelet donors and blood donors with type O blood, though all blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients – are urged to make an appointment to give in the coming days to help restock the shelves for hospital patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors must meet certain height and weight requirements.

To schedule an appointment, call (800) 733-2767, visit redcrossblood.org or use the free Blood Donor app.

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