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Blood shortage is severe, says American Red Cross

Concern over the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus have seen blood donation and drives fall far below what hospitals need. (Screen grab from Red Cross video.)

SALT LAKE CITY — The American Red Cross (Red Cross) reports a severe blood shortage across the nation. They need blood donors of all blood types, and especially platelets, to help as soon as possible. They request that donors make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible.

The shortage is due to what the Red Cross called an atypically high number of trauma cases and trips to hospital emergency rooms. In a statement, the Red Cross said that as compared to 2019, the demand for blood from trauma centers has risen by 10% in 2021.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” said Heidi Ruster, C.E.O., of Red Cross Utah/Nevada Region.

Demand from hospitals also high

The COVID-19 pandemic has a hand in the blood shortage as well. The Red Cross said that there is a need for increased blood transfusions because people who deferred care during the pandemic are now experiencing more advanced disease progression which leads to an increase in demand for transfusions.

Since March, 2021, the Red Cross said it’s distributed nearly 75,000 more blood products than they expected, to meet these needs.

Therefore, some hospitals are putting off elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes.

Giving blood after the COVID-19 pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), have updated their recommendations for blood donations as COVID-19 vaccinations have become more prevalent among the community.

The Red Cross has adjusted its safety protocols as well. Utahns who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask or to socially distance. Those who are unvaccinated are required to wear a mask and to socially distance.

In order to donate please bring a blood donor card or a driver’s license. Alternately, two other forms of identification are needed. 

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification in order to check in.

In Utah, those 16 years of age and older are eligible to donate blood. There may be height and weight requirements depending on a donor’s age.

How to schedule an appointment, and help reduce the blood shortage

People who would like to donate blood or platelets are asked to make an appointment either by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, by visiting redcrossblood.org, by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on an Alexa Echo device.

You can find blood drives and make an appointment to donate blood here.

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