Red Cross declares ‘blood crisis’ as the number of blood drives in America’s schools drops 62% due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- The Red Cross says the U.S. is currently suffering a ‘national blood crisis’ as donations fall during the pandemic
- Overall blood donations are down 10% during the pandemic as many events have been cancelled, and Covid has caused staffing issues for some events
- Schools, a key piece in blood donation efforts, have occurred 62% less often during Covid
- Many people who suffer from chronic illness require frequent blood transfusions to survive, and shortages of blood could lead to their death
The United States is suffering a ‘national blood crisis’ as many donation events have been cancelled due to Covid.
The rampant spread of Omicron has caused many people not to turn out for blood drives in recent weeks. Some drives are being cancelled all together due to staffing issues.
Schools, whether colleges or public high schools, form the backbone of many blood donation efforts, but many have been cancelled recently in the wake of Covid outbreaks.
Since collected blood only can be stored for around a month and a half, shocks in the blood supply chain – like a Covid outbreak – can quickly lead to crisis for hospitals and other blood centers.
The Red Cross issued a warning on Tuesday that the United States is currently suffering a ‘blood crisis’ due to shortages of blood donations. The organization says donations are down by 10% overall since the pandemic began, and donation drives at schools have been slashed 62%. (file photo)
Many people who have chronic conditions or blood-related medical issues need regular blood transfusions to manage their conditions. People who suffer trauma injuries will also often require blood to survive. Pictured: A woman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, donates blood on January 4
‘At a time when many businesses and organizations across the country are experiencing pandemic challenges, the Red Cross is no different,’ it wrote in a statement.
‘We are all learning how to live in this new environment, how we spend our time, where we work, how we give back, how we make a difference in the lives of others – donating blood must continue to be part of it.’
The Red Cross reports that there has been an overall 10 percent decrease of donations of blood since the pandemic began in March 2020.
There has also been a 62 percent drop in the number of donation drives held at colleges and universities during that period.
While school donors usually account for around 25 percent of donors, during the pandemic they have only made up 10 percent of donations.
Some blood centers have a supply of less than one day available, and patients coming in for treatment may not be able to receive the blood they need to survive.
Hospitals need blood for many operations and some treatments for conditions like cancer and chronic illnesses. Many with blood-based conditions also require regular blood transfusions.
One woman the Red Cross used as an example was Kristen Mill, of Spring Grove, Illinois.
Mill’s has suffered from a condition for over a decade that leads to her body not producing enough hemoglobin to survive.
She requires regular blood transfusions to stay alive, but due to recent shortages she has often had to wait to receive blood.
‘The hospital came to me and they apologized, and they said, ‘We’re so sorry, our blood bank is depleted to the point where we don’t have anyone that matches with you,’ said Mill.
‘It’s very scary, especially if you don’t know if the blood is coming, because this is something that you need to live.
‘It has become quite common that I would have to wait two or three days for blood.
‘Then my condition would get worse, and I’d need to be hospitalized while waiting for blood. It usually took two days, sometimes three days, which is a long time when you are waiting for something that could save your life.’
People who suffer trauma injuries may also require blood transfusions to make up for a loss of blood suffered from an accident or other wound.
Since no one knows when they might be the next person to suffer a serious injury, the shortage of blood puts everyone at risk overall.
‘Nobody wakes up in the morning and plans on being the next trauma patient. So this literally could affect you or your family members and your loved ones,’ Dr Jennifer Andrews told CBS News.