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Red Cross declares nationwide emergency due to critically low blood supply

Red Cross declares blood supply emergency
Red Cross declares nationwide blood supply emergency 01:40

The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood shortage, saying patients are at risk of not getting lifesaving transfusions.

The Malandrino family of Arlington, Virginia, knows firsthand the critical impact donations can make. Jack Malandrino, 12, required a blood transfusion shortly after his birth. He and his twin sister were born months prematurely and faced serious health complications. 

"His heart would stop, and he would stop breathing routinely," said mom Susan Malandrino. "It was just terrifying."  

She says a transfusion helped kickstart his recovery, allowing him to grow into a healthy, thriving boy.  

"Through blood donation, you know — it saved my life," Jack said.   

Donors are needed now more than ever as the Red Cross faces a national emergency shortage, with the number of donors at a 20-year low. Medical director Dr. Eric Gehrie says the Red Cross has experienced a loss of 300,000 donors since the COVID-19 pandemic alone.  

"It means that hospitals will order a certain number of units of blood, and those orders are not being filled fully," he said. "So hospital blood banks are low on blood."

Gehrie says the Red Cross supplies about 40% of the nation's blood supply. He says emptier shelves could force hospitals to make excruciating decisions about which patients are prioritized for blood.  

"Doctors have to make choices about which patients can receive a transfusion in a given day," he says. "Surgeries like heart can be delayed waiting for the available blood to be collected and sent to the hospital."

This isn't the first time the Red Cross has urged people to donate due to concerning low supply. In January 2022, the organization declared its first-ever national blood crisis

The current emergency announcement follows a national blood shortage alert the organization shared in September. 

At Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C., donors who give regularly say the shortage should be a call to action.

"People need to realize it's not that hard; it's not that much time," said Katie Orozco, a regular donor. 

Susan Malandrino says her family proves the point that every drop matters, and adds that the blood transfusion her son received meant everything to her family.

"It meant the world, it's why we're here today," she says.

"Life is so precious," remarked Jack. He said he plans to donate when he's old enough, so he can pay it forward.

The Red Cross says that while all types of blood donations are needed, Type O and platelets, required for cancer and trauma patients, are most urgently needed. 

Individuals interested in donating are asked to schedule an appointment at   

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