(NationalUSNews.com) — On Sunday, January 7, the Red Cross issued a press release to alert the public about the current shortages in their emergency blood supply. They have noted a 40 percent decrease in donors over the last 20 years, and this year there was a 7,000-unit shortfall in blood donations during this holiday season. Dr. Eric Gehrie, who is a medical director at the American Red Cross, says that this issue is a long-term problem with supply. He added that they would need an additional 8,000 donations per week to meet current demand from hospitals.
America’s Blood Centers, an association of independent non-profit blood centers that operate in both the US and Canada, have confirmed that at least 17 community blood centers have critically low blood supplies. The Red Cross has also confirmed that the national blood supply has fallen to such critical levels that they are having to limit the distribution of type O blood products, which are among the first of the blood supply to run out during a shortage due to their universality.
Dr. Gehrie says that while the number of donors has been gradually reducing over the years, there has been a reduction of 300,000 blood donors since the COVID-19 pandemic began in January 2020. He also mentioned that changes in how schools and businesses operate have made the usual method of community blood drives more difficult. More restrictions and people working from home may mean fewer people volunteer to donate. Winter weather and seasonal illnesses can keep donors away from public donation events.
In an effort to encourage people to donate, the Red Cross has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to offer donors a chance to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Las Vegas. All participants will be automatically entered into the contest when they donate. While donors are expected to be in generally good health and have valid identification to donate, many restrictions have been loosened in recent years, so people may be unaware they are eligible to volunteer. Check the Red Cross website for eligibility and to make an appointment for a donation.
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