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Red Cross seeks more blood donors to alleviate an emergency shortage


The Red Cross says donations are at a 20-year low and hospitals are demanding blood products faster than the organization can replenish supplies.

The American Red Cross says it is experiencing emergency blood shortages, with hospitals demanding blood products faster than the organization can replenish supplies.

In a news release, the nonprofit says donations are at a 20-year low after a decrease of 40 percent over that period.

The continued shortage means limited availability for some patients and difficulty for some hospitals to find matches for rare blood types, the Red Cross says.

“One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, says in the news release. “A person needs lifesaving blood every two seconds in our country — and its availability can be the difference between life and death, however, blood is only available thanks to the generosity of those who roll up a sleeve to donate.”

The Red Cross cited factors several factors triggering the decline, including increased telecommuting limiting office-based blood drives and eligibility changes made to safeguard donors.

“Additional challenges lie ahead as winter weather and seasonal respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19 may affect future donor turnout compounding the dire blood supply situation that the nation currently faces,” the Red Cross says.

Type O blood products are among the most transfused blood types.

"The potential for severe winter weather and seasonal illness may compound the dire blood supply situation," said Dr. Eric Gehrie, executive physician director for the Red Cross. "Donors of all types – especially those with type O blood and those giving platelets – are urged to give now."

For more information about donor eligibility or to schedule a donation, go to or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.