Red Cross faces threat to available blood supply

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Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, including at college campuses, workplaces and schools.

The cancellations have resulted in an estimated 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

Healthy people are needed now to donate to help patients who depend on lifesaving blood.

In Michigan, approximately 160 blood drives have been cancelled, which has resulted in 5,100 fewer blood donations. To make up for the lack of blood donations, the Red Cross has added appointment slots at donation centers and expanded capacity at several of its community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to provide ample opportunities for donors to give.

The Red Cross is expecting the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is raising concerns among blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country.

The blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies or patients suffering from cancer.

Blood donation process
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

The American Red Cross is a non-profit organization supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood.

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