Red Cross Issues Emergency Blood Shortage

A person giving blood at a donation drive.
Antonio Corigliano

To help address the current emergency blood shortage, all who come to give blood or platelets with the American Red Cross now through August 29 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email.

Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available and less than a two-day supply of type O blood.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give now by activating Amazon’s Alexa Red Cross Blood Skill by saying, “Alexa, find a blood drive,” or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

When an emergency arises, it is the blood already on the shelves that saves lives. Only through the generosity of blood donors can the Red Cross provide hospitals with lifesaving blood to meet the ongoing and often, unpredictable needs of patients. The need for blood is constant. In the United States every two seconds blood is needed to help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

With the help of a generous $1 million donation from Amazon, the Red Cross hopes to motivate donors to roll up a sleeve and alleviate the blood shortage across the country. Amazon’s partnership with the Red Cross is part of their commitment to “Right Now Needs” to help increase blood donations to ensure patient needs are met.

“We are grateful to Amazon for their support in addressing a ‘Right Now Need’ for blood donations,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Each donation truly matters to those counting on blood products to battle illness and injury. Today, we are asking the public to donate as soon as possible to ensure blood is available on hospital shelves for those in need.”

Blood transfusion is one of the most common inpatient hospital procedures in the U.S., and these blood products can only come from volunteer donors. Yet, only 3 out of 100 people in the United States give blood.

The Red Cross urges individuals across the country to roll up a sleeve today to ensure blood is available for patients across the country. A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.