Emergency means that hospitals are requesting blood from the American Red Cross. And we don’t have enough blood to meet their patients’ needs.Executive medical director for the American Red Cross, Eric Gehrie, after the organization announced a blood shortage reaching emergency levels.
Why It Matters: The Red Cross accounts for about 40% of blood donations nationwide. On Sunday, the nonprofit announced a shortage significant enough to declare an emergency as blood donations to the nonprofit have reached the lowest level in 20 years. The organization explains, “the number of people donating blood through the Red Cross has fallen by about 40%,” impacting the Red Cross’ ability to provide blood to hospitals who need it for patients.
Big Picture: Sunday’s announcement is not the first time the Red Cross has warned of donation shortages, and the organization explained multiple factors contributing to the decrease over the past 20 years. The Red Cross said, “Most recently, COVID-19 accelerated this decline as more people embraced remote work making it challenging to meet people where they are with convenient blood drives.”
Something to Consider: USA Today explains, “other blood donation organizations also report inventories are running low but they stopped short of calling the situation an emergency.” The Red Cross has also reported that blood donations typically decrease in January, with fewer donors during and after the holidays; many people also stay home as respiratory viruses cause illness.
by Emily Hooker, based in Texas