Red Cross calls for donors amidst critical Type O blood shortage

Red Cross calls for donors amidst critical Type O blood shortage

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The American Red Cross has a critical shortage of Type O blood and needs eligible donors to give now to help patients facing trauma and other life-threatening situations.

“Right now the American Red Cross has issued a critical appeal for donations of especially Type O blood but all blood types are absolutely needed. But Type O is critically important," said James Jarvis, the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina. "I’m O negative so I’m a universal blood donor. So when someone needs blood and the doctors don’t have time to quickly determine what they need, anyone can receive Type O negative blood. Right now we’re operating at a two day supply and we like to have a five day supply. So it’s critically important that if you have Type O blood to please come down and donate at the local American Red Cross.”

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of Type O blood available for emergency rooms, where it can be most critical. That means just six units of Type O blood are available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed every day.

“We have to collect 13,000 units of blood everyday in this country to meet the needs of 2,600 hospitals. When we have a critical shortage such as this, hospitals are going to delay elective procedures and they’re really just going to focus on those emergency situations where someone needs blood to survive so every donation can save up to three lives,” Jarvis said.

Just 7 percent of the U.S. population has Type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and is also critical in trauma situations.

“The big issues for us right now is that we have less than a two day supply of Type O blood. So if there was a significant event that were to happen here where there would be a mass casualty situation or in any of those other types of situations we just don’t have the capacity right now," he said.

The Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer Type O blood donations than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. Spring break schedules are known to decrease blood donations, and schools, including high schools and colleges, begin to host fewer blood drives in late spring as school years end. Because these drives account for about 20 percent of blood donations during the school year, fewer drives can also greatly affect the blood supply.

“A lot of things can happen that require a lot of blood. Car accidents. Women giving birth that have complications, there’s a number of events that can happen to anyone you know and love so now really is the time if you can donate blood please do so, especially if you have Type O,” said Jarvis.

Donors of all blood types, especially Type O, are urged to urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Eligible donors with Type O blood are encouraged to make a whole blood or Power Red donation, where available. During a Power Red donation, donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.

As a thank-you for helping replenish the blood supply, all donors who come to give blood or platelets now through June 10 will receive a $5 Gift Card via email.

Copyright 2019 WECT. All rights reserved.