Red Cross Declares Blood Crisis In Historic “First”

( The United States is experiencing a national blood crisis for the first time in its history, according to the American Red Cross.

On Tuesday, the organization emailed a statement to the public, warning them of the potential consequences of what’s now the worst crisis it’s faced in more than 10 years. Included in those consequences could be donors having to make the “difficult decisions” about choosing specific patients who could receive a blood transfusion over another.

According to the Red Cross, it has “less than a one-day supply of critical bloody types,” which has forced the organization to limit the distributions it normally makes to hospitals. They continued:

“At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an overall decline of 10% in terms of the number of people who have donated blood. This has compounded the problem that’s been caused by cancelled blood drives and limitations with staff during the pandemic.

In response, the Blood Cross is urging people to donate blood by making an appointment to do so soon, because “blood and platelets donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.”

While the Red Cross is saying that they will gladly take all blood types, donations are vitally needed for type O. Overall, the organization says that the pandemic has caused a 62% decrease in the number of blood drives that typically occur at colleges and schools.

The medical director for the organization, Baia Lasky, emphasized:

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply. Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

This has been an ongoing problem since the start of the pandemic that’s now coming to a head. According to a report in The New York Times, the Red Cross supplies approximately 40% of the blood reserves in the U.S.

There’s a “perfect storm” of events that are coming together now to increase the stress on the blood supply. Typically speaking, this time of year, the number of blood donations decreases in a normal year, due to seasonal illness, college breaks, winter weather, holiday parties and travel, among other reasons.

This year, the shortage is being compounded by the spreading Omicron variant, which is extremely transmissible and is causing many parts of the country to set new infection records.

This has caused the national supply of blood to go down significantly, according to the organization’s president of biomedical services, Chris Hrouda. He recently told The Times:

“We simply like to keep three days of inventory. We’re struggling to keep one day.”

The reason for that desired timeframe is that blood typically takes three days to go through testing before it can be prepared and then given to patients who need it.