Red Cross announces ‘critical shortage’ of blood, offers $5 Amazon card to donors

Type O positive blood labeled for trauma use, location unspecified, 2018 | Photo by Sanford Myers for the American Red Cross, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Due to a pressing need for blood donations, the American Red Cross is offering gift cards to those who give blood by June 10.

Donor Thomas Brown finishes giving blood with American Red Cross staff member Alex White, location unspecified, 2018 | Photo by Amanda Romney for the American Red Cross, St. George News

The American Red Cross said in a press release that they need all blood types but are experiencing a critical shortage of type O blood specifically, and they are urging eligible donors to give now to help patients facing trauma and other life-threatening situations.

As a “thank you” for helping replenish the blood supply, all donors who come to give blood now through June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms, where it can be most critical. That means just six units of type O blood are available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed daily.

While just 7% of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.

“All blood types are urgently needed, but we’re facing a critical shortage of type O blood – the blood group most needed by hospitals,” Red Cross Blood Services Vice-President Cliff Numark said in the press release. “Because it’s vitally important for hospitals to have type O blood available when every second counts, type O donors are urged to donate now and make a point to donate often.”

Donations needed now

Type O negative red blood cells are kept in a Red Cross storage refrigerator before being distributed to a hospital, location unspecified, 2018 | Photo by Amanda Romney for the American Red Cross, St. George News

Donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Eligible donors with type O blood are encouraged to make a whole blood or “Power Red” donation, where available. During a Power Red donation, donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.

In St. George, the American Red Cross donation center is located at 476 E. Riverside Drive, Suite B-6.

How blood shortages affect hospitals

Graphic showing the critical two-day blood supply at hospitals impacted by a blood shortage. | Graphic courtesy of the American Red Cross, St. George News

Blood shortages are not uncommon and can have a direct impact on patient care.

Dr. Atif Shafqat, an oncologist and hematologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, said in the press release that hospitals face consistent shortages of blood products year-round, even causing some surgeons to delay elective procedures because of individual shortages.

“When I ask our blood bank director the toughest part of her job, she always tells me it is these shortages and how to deal with them,” he said.

Despite these challenges, hospitals and the Red Cross work to ensure patients have the blood products they need, but that can only happen when a volunteer donor rolls up a sleeve to give.

“This is all possible thanks to the volunteers and the blood donors who are giving this generous gift,” Shafqat said.

How to help

Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive. For more information about obtaining the Amazon gift card, visit RedCrossBlood.org/Together.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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