Blood Centers declare critical blood supply shortage, urge donations

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Blood Centers declare critical blood supply shortage, urge donations
Blood Drive (Photo courtesy of Jared Beasley/American Red Cross)

By Kathy Chouteau

The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and AABB have come together to announce that there are critical blood supply shortages in the U.S. and to urge eligible, healthy people to donate blood or platelets.

In a separate appeal, Vitalant, a nonprofit blood provider serving 900 hospitals nationwide, also emphasized the need for blood and platelet donations, noting that its supplies of type O blood—the most transfused blood type, particularly in emergencies—have plunged to levels not seen since May 2020.

“We’re seeking about 1,000 additional volunteer donors to make and keep an appointment each week for the foreseeable future to ensure Vitalant can help trauma victims, cancer patients and critical surgeries,” said Vitalant Senior Vice President Cliff Numark about his organization’s call for blood and platelet donations.

The widespread call for donations comes at a time that is traditionally stable with blood donations, according to the statement from the American Red Cross and its partners. Per the partners, “the recent COVID-19 case surge and the busy back-to-school period” have caused a number of blood collection organizations to see an unusual drop in fall donor turnouts.

Blood drive cancellations at schools, in addition to businesses limiting the number of individuals allowed onsite due to pandemic-related precautions have only compounded the blood shortage problem, per the partners.

“These collection of challenges have disrupted the nation’s blood supply, resulting in concerningly low inventories of life-saving blood products across the country for patients in need,” stated the partners.

If the blood supply does not stabilize soon, the partners estimated that hospitals may need to cancel certain patient surgeries and alter treatments. “Blood donations are needed now to help maintain optimal care for all patients,” they stated.

Aside from urging eligible people to donate blood, the partners are asking “individuals, schools, businesses and other community organizations to host a blood drive” which they say “are critically important to provide local blood donation opportunities and to bring communities together to help save lives.”

In the East Bay, some of the upcoming American Red Cross blood drives will be held: Thurs., Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 4351 Hilltop Dr. in El Sobrante; Sat., Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at FocalPoint Bible Church, 4950 Appian Way in El Sobrante; Tues., Nov. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Pinole Valley High School, 2900 Pinole Valley Rd. in Pinole; and daily at the Oakland Blood Donation Center, 6230 Claremont Ave. in Oakland typically from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here to set up an appointment near you.

To find one of the partners’ local blood collection sites to schedule an appointment to donate, contact AABB at www.aabb.org or +1.301.907.6977; America’s Blood Centers at www.americasblood.org or +1.202.393.5725; or the American Red Cross at www.RedCrossBlood.org or +1.800.RED CROSS (+1.800.733.2767).

To learn more or to schedule a donation appointment via Vitalant, click here or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825).