Since March 2020, there has been a 10% overall blood donation decline across the United States. The COVID19 pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives across schools and colleges, and the winter surge in Covid-19 cases as well as historically bad weather have combined to disrupt blood donation processes.
Now the American Red Cross has declared a “national blood crisis” as the US faces its worst blood shortage in over a decade, predominantly due to the drop in blood drives. As a result of the shortage, the Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the country’s blood supply, has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. According to the organization, some hospitals may not receive one in four blood products they need.
In a plea on their website, the Red Cross makes it clear just how dire the situation is: “Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled and can only be made available through the kindness of volunteer donors. Less than a one-day supply of critical blood types in recent weeks. Please consider booking additional appointments further out due to the fact that while the availability of drives may be impacted, the need for blood remains constant.”
Gay men still face hurdles to donate blood amid national shortage. https://t.co/bkaMXemx9F
— ABC News (@ABC) January 13, 2022
In the face of the national blood shortage, LGBTQ advocates and more than two dozen members of Congress are calling for the FDA to further ease donor restrictions on sexually active gay and bisexual men. To be eligible to donate blood in the United States, men who have sex with men must abstain from same-sex sexual activity for 90 days. The limitations have long been criticized as discriminatory by advocates and seen by many in the medical community as unnecessarily obstructive to the nation’s crucial blood supply.
January is #NationalBloodDonorMonth & it comes at a crucial time as the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood shortage. Today, Sutter team members donated blood at the CPMC Van Ness Campus blood drive. Thank you to everyone who rolled up their sleeves to help others! pic.twitter.com/FvZFLCZsOy
— Sutter Health (@SutterHealth) January 13, 2022
The Red Cross is in need of all blood types, but most the most urgent types are Type O Negative and Type O Positive. They also need platelets, which aid in the clotting portion of blood and must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.
We're facing a national blood crisis.
Doctors are having to make tough choices about who receives transfusions and who has to wait. You can help by making an appointment to give at https://t.co/4JVikYXKuP or these 3 other ways. pic.twitter.com/TigqB4cVqk
— American Red Cross (@RedCross) January 11, 2022
If you’re able to donate blood, you can find your nearest blood drive by checking the American Red Cross page.