Red Cross Declares Emergency Blood Shortage In The US

That could affect patients undergoing surgeries or needing treatments.



Frederick, Md (KM) The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood s shortage across the country. Curt Luthye, the Executive Director of the Red Cross Chapter for Frederick, Howard and Montgomery Counties, says part of the shortage is due to a decline in the number of blood donors over the past 20 years. “As it turns out, between Christmas and New Year’s, there was a seven-thousand unit shortfall in blood donations across the whole country,” he says. “And that can have a high impact as you can imagine on the availability of blood products locally and around the country.”

Luthye says over the past 20 years, the number of people donating blood to the Red Cross has fallen by more than 40 percent. “And that is exacerbated by the current challenges like seasonal illness: maybe the flu; maybe COVID-19. But also people’s travel, holiday travel, the start of the New Year,” he says.

If this trend continues, Luthye says drastic measures may need to be taken when it comes to supplying blood to hospitals. “One of the things that I’ve noticed that we’ve actually had to start making some decisions about limiting the amount of the Type O blood that is available because there’s  not enough Type O blood coming in,” he says.

And if restrictions are placed on blood coming into hospitals, Luthye says that will affect patients. “Single blood donation of whole blood can save up to three peoples; lives,” he says. “The fact that there’s a desperate need for blood from people who are African-American or Hispanic to help those who might have sickle cell disease.”

There’s also a need for platelets. “The platelets are a component of that blood and it’s the clotting portion. So it’s needed  by trauma patients as well as cancer patients,” says Luthye.

In the past, the Red Cross has experienced blood shortages.  “It looks like this one is a little bit more severe just because of the numbers. We had more blood drives that had to be canceled because of weather. And then we’ve had people that maybe signed up and then not shown up for their scheduled appointment,” he said.

Right now, the Red Cross is asking everyone who is eligible to roll up their sleeves and give blood. Luthye  says there’s a particular need for those with O Blood types. “We definitely need all types of blood, but Type O blood donors are urgently needed. Type O-Positive is the most transfused blood type.. Type O-Negative is the universal blood type and that’s what emergency rooms use when there’s no time to determine what blood type a patient is,” he says.  .

Persons with the rare blood types of A, B and AB are also welcome.

Anyone who wants to donate blood can go on line to and sign up, or use the Red Cross mobile app. They can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).



By Kevin McManus