Emergency Blood Shortage: Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donors

An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O – to give now and help save lives.

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Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The Red Cross escalated its call for blood and platelet donors after a difficult Independence Day week for donations. More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday and enjoyed summer activities. This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing donations to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they come in.

“Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on.”

This need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

 How to help

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Blood Donor Ken Krogulecki of Bay Village, Ohio

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added about 6,500 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

 

Who blood donations help

Because of generous donors, the Red Cross is able to provide blood products for patients like 9-month-old Krew Anderson. Krew is a happy, laid-back baby boy. His wide grin frames two tiny teeth. He likes to play with balloons and just experienced his first boat ride and fireworks show, but Krew has faced more challenges in the last four months than many people will experience in a lifetime.

In March, Krew was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to produce a large number of abnormal blood cells. Since then, he has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and received 15 blood and platelet transfusions to date.

“The first time he got [a transfusion], I was just super nervous and didn’t know really what was happening,” said his mother, Stephanie Anderson. “Now, when he gets one, I’m like, ‘Yes, please, get him some blood to help him get more energy and back to normal.’”

Krew’s father, Richard Anderson, donated blood a couple of times a year prior to his son’s diagnosis, but after seeing Krew receive blood, he now plans to give as soon as he’s eligible again.

“For me, just knowing that if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I want to make sure there’s enough blood out there for everyone, and that there’s no shortage,” he said.

Stephanie Aholt of Strongsville also knows the value of donated blood.  It saved the life of her newborn son, Benjamin.  See and hear Stephanie’s story here.

Missing Types sees encouraging increase in new donors – all donors needed now

Facing a decline of about 80,000 new Red Cross blood donors each year for the past several years, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign in June to encourage new donors, and those who have not given recently, to donate blood. While the campaign has already inspired thousands of new donors to give, the Red Cross is now calling on all eligible blood and platelet donors to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible to overcome the emergency blood shortage.

Through the Missing Types campaign, which runs throughout the summer, the letters A, B and O – letters used to identify blood types – disappeared from corporate logos, celebrity social media accounts and favorite websites to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring blood is never missing from hospital shelves.

Missing Types Campaign Launched in Cleveland

N_tice _nything missing? A few missing letters may not seem like a big deal, but for a hospital patient who needs type A, B or O blood, these letters mean life.

As part of an international movement, the American Red Cross is launching the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. You may notice A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.

The sad fact is that blood shortages are not uncommon in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But they can be prevented when more people roll up a sleeve to give.

When blood types go missing

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Stephanie Aholt and son Benjamin.  Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross volunteer

“You never know whose life you might be saving,”  Stephanie Aholt told a group of Red Cross supporters and media gathered for a news conference to kick-off the Missing Types campaign in Cleveland.  Her two-year old son, Benjamin, lives with hemophilia B.  Just three days after his birth, Benjamin had lost more than 10% of his birth weight.

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“He was bleeding to death, and was in critical condition,” she said.  “Benjamin needed several units of blood and blood products.  Without the donations he received, he would not be alive today.”

 

The news conference was held in the law offices of Jones Day, which has been hosting_D5C6862 regularly scheduled blood drives for the past 20 years.  “In that time, our lawyers and staff have donated thousands of pints, most recently just two weeks ago,” said Paula Batt Wilson, Administrative Partner for Jones Day’s Cleveland office and active Red Cross Blood Services volunteer.

See more photos from the news conference here.

Join the movement

  1. Give blood – Schedule your appointment at org/MissingTypes or with the Blood Donor App.
  1. Recruit new donorsEncourage a friend or family member to roll up a sleeve too.
  2. Spread the word
  • Take a photo with one of these selfie signs and post it to your social media along with the message “I am the #MissingType.”
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to a Missing Types message on your social mediaWhat to expect at your donationGiving blood is simple. Commit about an hour of your day to help save a life.
    • Registration – Sign in, show your ID and read the required information.
    • Health check – Answer questions and receive a mini-physical.
    • Donation – Giving a pint of blood takes about 8-10 minutes.
    • Refreshments – Enjoy some snacks and relax before resuming your day.

     

Y_u _re the #MissingType p_tients need. Don’t wait until the letters A, B and O go missing from the hospital shelves. Schedule your appointment to give now.