Red Cross: Nation faces blood shortage at ‘crisis levels’

In the midstate, about 44.8 percent of donation appointments remain unfilled over the next month. 

  • Julia Agos

(Harrisburg) – Hospitals are not only dealing with surging COVID-19 cases — but a blood shortage as well.

The American Red Cross, which collects 40 percent of the nation’s blood donations, is calling it the worst shortage in more than a decade.

The organization is operating with less than one day’s supply of critical blood products. It says the ideal stockpile is at least five days.

Laura Burke, with the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, said doctors are being forced to decide which patients receive blood transfusions and who must wait.

“That means that certain procedures may have to be deferred. We are focused on replenishing that supply, so they don’t have to make those decisions,” she said.

In the midstate, about 44.8 percent of donation appointments remain unfilled over the next month.

The nonprofit is accepting all blood types — but especially O positive and O negative.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross.

The organization saw a 62 percent drop in blood drives since the pandemic began in March 2020.

People willing to donate can visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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