On Monday, the American Red Cross said it is facing a critical scarcity of blood.
According to the humanitarian group, the number of blood donors is at a 20-year low.
According to a press statement from the Red Cross, hospitals presently use more blood products than donations are arriving. This includes whole blood, red blood cells, plasma, and platelets.
As a result, hospitals have been forced to restrict their distribution of blood types highly transfused by the Red Cross, even though it claims to provide around 40% of the nation’s blood donations.
Rescheduled operations, longer wait times for transfusion-dependent patients, and increased difficulty finding compatible donors for those with unusual blood types are all consequences of hospitals running low on blood, according to Dr. Eric Gehrie, medical director of the American Red Cross.
Fewer people are donating blood, but according to Gehrie, 300,000 fewer people have donated blood since the COVID-19 epidemic started in January 2020.
According to the Red Cross, there was a 7,000-unit shortage between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and more donation drives may have to be postponed due to difficulties, including the respiratory virus season and cold weather.
The pandemic, Gehrie noted, was one of the reasons for the gradual fall in blood donations; many individuals stayed home or worked remotely during the outbreak, making it challenging to organize blood drives.
He also said that factors like iron levels, hemoglobin levels, and travel constraints might lead to the deferral of donors. Additionally, he said that such contributors could be unaware that they have the potential to make future donations.
The Red Cross declared “a national blood crisis” in the United States in January 2022, during the omicron wave of the pandemic, due to a decline in donations and campaigns to collect blood.
The Red Cross reports that only 6.8 million Americans contribute blood annually, representing 3% of the age-eligible population.
In favor of a new risk assessment technique that is universally applicable to all blood donors, the United States Food and Drug Administration has removed all limitations about sexually active bisexual and homosexual males giving blood.
At a time when blood supplies are low, the new policy has the potential to attract more donors and make blood giving more inclusive, according to public health professionals and advocates for LGBT rights.