In The Know with Gino: National Blood Shortage Sparks Urgent Call for Donors
Photo by Obi – @pixel7propix on Unsplash
Chattanooga, TN – The American Red Cross is grappling with a critical national blood shortage, as the organization faces a perfect storm of challenges that have depleted the country’s blood supply. A combination of decreased summer donations, cancellations due to Hurricane Idalia, and a persistent shortfall of about 30,000 donations in August has left hospitals in a precarious situation.
Summer is typically a challenging season for blood donation, as many regular donors are away on vacation. This year, however, the situation was exacerbated by a significant drop in donors, leading to a reduction in the availability of some of the most crucial blood types. The situation took a turn for the worse when Hurricane Idalia struck the Southeast, causing widespread power outages, travel disruptions, and flooding. The storm forced the cancellation of over a dozen blood drives and left hundreds of blood and platelet donations uncollected.
Currently, the demand for blood products in hospitals is outpacing the rate of donations, putting patient care at risk. Urgent appeals have been issued for donors of all blood types, with an emergency need for platelet donors and individuals with type O blood to schedule appointments immediately.
The Red Cross has called upon the public to help rebuild the blood supply by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule a donation. In appreciation of donors’ efforts, all those who give blood from September 1st to 18th will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt, subject to availability.
Additionally, donors throughout September will receive a coupon for a free haircut from Sport Clips Haircuts and will be entered into a drawing for a VIP NASCAR racing experience, with more details available at RedCrossBlood.org/RaceToGive.
The American Red Cross has also highlighted upcoming blood donation opportunities in Chattanooga, including an event on September 28, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4115 S. Access Road. This event is part of the organization’s efforts during Sickle Cell Awareness Month, emphasizing the need for African American blood donors to support patients with sickle cell disease.
The Red Cross launched the Sickle Cell Initiative in 2021 to increase the number of Black blood donors and improve health outcomes for patients with sickle cell disease. Throughout September and October, the initiative will collaborate with various organizations, including 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Kier’s Hope Foundation, Inc., historically Black colleges and universities, and member organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, to host blood drives and raise awareness about the importance of blood donation. More information can be found at RedCrossBlood.org/OurBlood.
To donate blood, individuals can make an appointment using the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are required to present a blood donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification at check-in. Eligible donors must be 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health.
In addition to donating blood, the Red Cross is encouraging people to consider volunteering to assist communities affected by climate-driven disasters, as the organization anticipates another active hurricane season. Volunteering opportunities include helping at Red Cross shelters, utilizing professional skills as a licensed healthcare provider, or joining the Red Cross Disaster Action Team.
More information can be found at redcross.org/volunteertoday. The Red Cross emphasizes that a stable blood and platelet supply is crucial for national preparedness, especially during challenging times like the present.
SOURCE: Chattanooga Pulse