Red Cross warns of 'historically low' blood supply levels, staffing challenges

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The Red Cross is calling on healthy Americans to donate blood as the nation is facing "historically low" supply levels. 

"Blood centers across the country are reporting less than a one-day’s supply of blood. If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, some patients requiring transfusion may not receive the blood products they need," a Red Cross spokesperson told FOX Business on Wednesday. "Donors of all blood types – particularly type O blood, the most needed blood group by hospitals – and platelets are needed now to avert the need to potentially postpone lifesaving treatments."

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The Red Cross first sounded the alarm on the nation's blood supply earlier this month in a joint statement with the Association for Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) and America's Blood Centers. 

According to the statement, blood donations typically decrease during the winter months due to travel, inclement weather and seasonal illnesses. In the U.S., more than 16 million units of blood and blood products are transfused annually with more than 45,000 units needed daily. Blood can take up to three days to be tested, processed and made available for patients. 

Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA – Aug 30, 2019: An American Red Cross sign on the roadside. (iStock / iStock)

The organizations emphasized that 2021's decline in donor turnout has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work, schools and businesses limiting the number of individuals allowed onsite and blood drive cancellations. The Red Cross cited staffing challenges as the reason behind its recent blood drive cancellations and noted that it is actively working to recruit phlebotomists. 

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In addition, the organizations cited misinformation regarding donor eligibility after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The statement clarifies that anyone who has received authorized COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer is able to donate blood and platelets as long as they are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of donation.

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Individuals who donate blood at a Red Cross location between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 will be automatically be entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition to the tickets, the package includes entry to the official NFL Tailgate, tickets to Super Bowl Experience, round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, three-night hotel accommodations and a $500 gift card for expenses.

Donors will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package, which includes a smart, short-throw laser projector, projector screen, soundbar, subwoofer, gift card for tech support with installation and a $500 e-gift card to put toward food and fun.

Donation appointments and information about upcoming blood drives are available at RedCrossBlood.org, 1-800-RED CROSS or through the Red Cross Blood Donor App. Donors can also reach AABB at 1-301-907-6977 or through www.aabb.org and America's Blood Centers at 1-202-393-5725 or www.americasblood.org.

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