American Red Cross appeals for 50,000 blood donations after summer supply reaches "emergency" low
(CBS/AP) - The American Red Cross is appealing for blood donations, saying its supply has reached emergency levels after it collected 50,000 fewer donations than expected this month.
The Red Cross said Tuesday that it needs donors of all blood types. But it said there's a particular need for O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative to meet expected patient demand. Type O negative blood is considered the universal blood type that doctors typically turn to first in an emergency situation when there is no time to match a patient's blood type.
According to the Red Cross, the current shortage leaves about half the readily available blood supply on hand compared with this time last year.
"There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren't readily available," Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a written statement. "In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood. We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't get to that point."
The Red Cross said it believes many regular donors haven't given yet because they've gotten an early start on summer. It also said the fact Independence Day falls mid-week has reduced the scheduled number of blood drives. The organization thinks many sponsors and businesses are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.
Local efforts are underway to replenish the blood supply. The Red Cross's Massachusetts region is seeking to collect more than 6,500 units of blood over the next two weeks, while the Northern New England Region that serves Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire is seeking 8,300 units over the next two weeks to address the shortages. The Connecticut region is seeking 5,000 blood donations over the next two weeks to do its part.
According to the Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion every two seconds. Each day the Red Cross collects more than 17,000 pints of blood around the country and each pint of blood can help save more than one life, it said.
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