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US Facing 'National Crisis' on Blood Supply

Red Cross is warning of 'severe blood shortage' around the nation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2021 3:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – "Every two seconds, someone in the US needs blood," per the American Red Cross. Now, however, "crucial patient care" is getting pushed off thanks to what the group says is a "severe blood shortage" nationwide, per the New York Times. In a release issued June 14, the Red Cross cited a 10% increase in "red cell demand" in hospitals with trauma centers in 2021 versus 2019. The supply of Type O blood, the "most needed blood group by hospitals," has been at less than half-a-day in recent weeks, it said. For context, the Times reports that last year during the pandemic, one Texas blood center had one to two days' worth of Type O, which was already down from the usual supply of three to four days' worth. A task force keeping tabs says the supply has hit level "red," meaning dangerously low, per ABC News.

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Per the Red Cross, it's due to a spike in organ transplants, trauma cases, and elective procedures. Dr. Merlyn Sayers, president and CEO of Carter BloodCare in Texas, calls the shortage a "national crisis," pointing to the pandemic as causing a twofold problem in terms of blood supply. First, there was the closure of many blood donation centers at workplaces due to social distancing requirements. Second, people who put off needed procedures during the worst of the pandemic are now showing up at hospitals to undergo those procedures—often with "more advanced disease progression," which sometimes means more transfusions. He says his group "dreads reaching the point ... that patients needing transfusion cannot be confident that the blood is there for them." To encourage people to come in, the Red Cross is offering a $5 Amazon gift card for every donation through June 30. (Read more blood stories.)

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