Red Cross Blood Supply At Lowest Level In 15 Years, Drops To ‘Emergency Levels’

The Red Cross reports that their supply of blood is the lowest it has been in 15 years, and a number of factors at play this summer could be leading to the blood shortage.

The Red Cross posted about low levels of banked blood in a post on the organization’s website, titled “Red Cross Blood Supply Drops to Emergency Levels.” According to the Red Cross, 50,000 fewer donations than were expected were logged in June, leading to the current emergency levels of blood across the US.

Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, says that elective surgeries can be put off, but emergency situations require adequate blood levels. He explains:

“There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren’t readily available… In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood. We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t get to that point.”

In the US, a blood transfusion is needed every two seconds. And while all blood types are needed for donation, the organization says that in particular, O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative are in alarmingly short supply.

If you are interested in donating blood during the summer when donations are desperately needed, the Red Cross has these tips:

“Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.”

The organization continues:

“Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), 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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.”

According to the Red Cross, a single donation of blood can save up to three lives.