Dear HOPE members,
The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. Doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.
• The Red Cross has experienced about a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the pandemic began. • At schools and colleges, the Red Cross saw a 62% drop in blood drives due to the pandemic. As a result, Gen Z, which accounted for nearly one-quarter of donors in 2019, made up just about 10% in 2021. • The Red Cross also continues to confront relentless issues due to the pandemic, including ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. • Every community in America needs blood on a daily basis. At a time when many businesses and organizations across the country are experiencing pandemic challenges – the Red Cross is no different. And while we are all learning how to live in this new environment, how we spend our time, where we work, how we give back, how we make a difference in the lives of others – donating blood must continue to be part of it. • As we kick off the new year, new blood collection challenges are just beginning as the nation faces the highest surge yet of COVID-19 cases, as well as winter weather across the country, compounding the dire blood inventory situation.
The Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood products in recent weeks – well below the ideal five-day supply. The Red Cross works with hospitals around the clock to help meet the needs of patients, but blood product distributions to hospitals are currently outpacing the number of blood donations coming in.
• The Red Cross – which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood – has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals as a result of the shortage. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met. • All blood types are needed, especially types O positive and O negative. o Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. o Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. • Platelet donations are also urgently needed. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. o Just one day of fewer platelet donations can pose a significant impact to patient care, but challenges with platelet collections have persisted for some months. In fact, over one-third of Red Cross platelet donation appointments nationwide have gone unfilled in recent weeks. o Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments – a disease all too familiar to millions of Americans and their families. • Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled and can only be made available through the kindness of volunteer donors. 2021-APL-1353 Page 2 of 3
During this blood crisis, the Red Cross asks the country to roll up a sleeve to help ensure people in their communities receive the care they need. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
• If there is not an immediate opportunity available to donate, donors are asked to make an appointment in the days and weeks ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and maintain a sufficient blood supply. • The health and safety of everyone attending Red Cross blood drives across the country is a priority. The Red Cross requires all blood donors, staff and others at our blood drives and donation centers to wear face masks regardless of their vaccination status. • Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate blood and platelets. Knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they receive is important in determining blood donation eligibility. • Healthy individuals are needed to donate now and throughout the winter to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Invite friends and family to join in this act of kindness – it can make a lifesaving difference in ensuring patients receive the care they need.
HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response