Blood Supply Dangerously Low

US blood supply hits emergency levels

(RxWiki News) The American Red Cross is calling for blood and platelet donations after announcing that the United States blood supply has reached emergency levels and is dangerously low.

Less than 50,000 blood donations are expected this month, a shortfall that will leave the US with only about half of the readily available blood products that were on hand at this time last year.

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Richard Benjamin, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, noted that the shortage leaves open the possibility that doctors could cancel elective surgeries if blood products are not available.

In a worst case scenario, he said physicians could delay more serious procedures, though the non-profit agency is working to ensure the shortfall doesn't get to that point.

The early start to a broiling summer could be contributing to the decline in donations, as well as summer vacations and activities for regular donors. The mid-week July 4 holiday also means fewer blood drives have been scheduled by businesses, as employees take extended vacations.

On an average day the American Red Cross collects about 17,000 pints of blood at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers. Someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion every two seconds.

All blood types are needed, particularly O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative.

Type O negative is a universal donor type, often used in emergencies when there is not time to match blood type, making the replenishment of its supply critical.

Interested blood donors can find more information or make an appointment to donate blood by calling the American Red Cross.

Potential donors should be prepared to show a blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification.

Donors must be 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. Younger teens may be eligible to donate with parental permission, depending on their state of residence.

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Review Date: 
June 26, 2012