The Red Cross says the U.S. is facing a national blood crisis due to a dangerously low blood supply.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a drop in donor turnout, the cancellation of blood drives, and staffing issues, resulting in the biggest blood shortage in more than a decade, according to the Red Cross. The Red Cross saw a 34% drop in new donors last year.
“If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” it warned in a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies.
According to the statement, blood facilities across the United States have reported having less than a one-day supply of some blood types.
Hospitals require blood for surgeries, transplants, cancer treatments, and chronic illnesses, but the Red Cross reports that amid this record shortage, it is unable to provide all of the blood products requested by hospitals on some days. Because of the shortage, doctors are being forced to make difficult judgments about who should receive blood and who should wait until there is more supply.
No 11-year-old should have to be concerned about the country’s blood supply. Dreylan Holmes, on the other hand, has sickle cell disease and requires blood transfusions.
“Sometimes I can’t do things when I’m hurting like sometimes I can’t get out of bed,” Holmes said of how the disease affects him.
That happened to him just before Thanksgiving. Holmes was critically anemic and required a transfusion, but he had to wait two days due to a shortage of blood at the hospital.
“It didn’t feel good having to wait when I was in pain,” he said.
His mother, Vesha Jamison, said the wait was “very scary.”
“That was actually the first time that we didn’t know when the blood was coming,” Jamison said.
Dr. Jennifer Andrews, medical director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center blood bank, stated that the hospital’s blood supply is critically low. Andrews explained that a reduced blood flow implies the hospital can’t care for patients as well.
“Nobody wakes up in the morning and plans on being the next trauma patient. So this literally could affect you or your family members and your loved ones,” she said.
Holmes encouraged those who are considering donating blood to do so.
“You should help other people like me, so we could get to feeling better,” he said.