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Blood shortage reaches crisis point

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:45 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The American Red Cross reported Wednesday that national and regional blood inventory is at dangerously low levels not seen in more than ten years causing hospitals to scale back on necessary procedures until supplies are replenished.

James Jarvis, Executive Director of American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Area, said the low levels are posing a risk to patient care.

“We don’t use the word ‘crisis’ lightly, so, this is a crisis for our blood inventory,” said Jarvis. “Hospitals are going to have to cancel procedures because they don’t have enough blood and so we need you.”

The pandemic has caused a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating and has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges. Winter weather has also factored in to the decline in some areas.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

Donors of all blood types are needed, especially Type O, to prevent further delays in vital medical treatments. Click here to find an upcoming blood drive and register to donate. Or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment.

“We strive to have at least five days’ supply of all blood types on the shelves and right now we have less than one days’ supply of most blood types, especially type O which is the most transfused,” said Jarvis.

People in the Cape Fear region can also book an appointment at any of the mobile blood drives or at the Wilmington Blood Donation Center at 1102 S. 16th Street in Wilmington.

According to a news release from the American Red Cross, a partnership has been formed between the NFL and the Red Cross to provide incentives during National Blood Donor Month to help tackle the shortage.

Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As an extra thank-you from the Red Cross, those who come to donate will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Volunteers are also needed to help run blood drives. Click here to find out how you can help by becoming a volunteer.

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