(RightWing.org) – The American Red Cross (ARC) reported that it needs roughly 29,000 units of red blood cells, 6,500 plasma units, and almost 5,000 units of platelets per day to meet American demand. Blood donors can make the difference between life or death for people suffering from traumatic injuries and chronic injuries and for people undergoing cancer treatment and surgical procedures. Unfortunately, the lifesaving organization recently warned that it’s facing a catastrophic blood shortage.
The ARC recently added a banner to its website, advising that it was experiencing the lowest number of individuals donating blood in 20 years. The organization warned that they need additional people to donate to “alleviate the shortage” to help guarantee that lifesaving medical needs and procedures aren’t delayed.
The ARC’s executive medical director, Dr. Eric Gehrie, told NBC News that the organization experienced a significant decrease in donors during the recent holiday season. He said the ARC needed about 8,000 additional weekly donations in January to make up for the resulting shortage of supplies. He estimated that the ARC had about 7,000 fewer units of blood on hand than is currently needed by hospitals.
On January 8, the ARC issued a press release warning that various blood units were being distributed to American hospitals “faster than” it was receiving donations. The shortage reached the point that the organization had to start limiting the transfer of one of the most commonly transfused blood types — O blood products — to medical facilities.
Dr. Gehrie explained that the ARC faces additional challenges as seasonal illness and the potential for inclement weather could “compound the dire blood supply situation.” He urged everyone to “give now,” particularly people with type O blood.
Sadly, winter shortages of blood supplies aren’t a new phenomenon. Former Republican President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation establishing January as National Blood Donor Month in 1970. The ARC has partnered with the NFL for five years to “invite football fans and blood donors” to participate in the annual drive.
People donating blood this January are automatically entered into a contest to win a trip for two to Las Vegas to watch Superbowl LVIII. The winner and their guest will receive round-trip airfare, three nights in a hotel, game tickets, in-stadium pre-game activities the day of the matchup, and a $1,000 gift card to help cover additional expenses.
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