America's Blood Supply Is at 'Critically Low Levels'

Red Cross blames 'back-to-back months of worsening climate-related disasters'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2023 3:27 PM CDT
Red Cross: Blood Supply Hit by 'Climate-Related Disasters'
A person donates blood to the American Red Cross during a blood drive in Pottsville, Pa.   (Lindsey Shuey/Republican-Herald via AP, File)

The American Red Cross has announced a national blood shortage, warning that the US blood supply is at "critically low levels." The Red Cross said the national blood supply is down almost 25% from early last month, partly due to "back-to-back months of worsening climate-related disasters" that have interrupted donation drives and blood collection, the New York Times reports. In its announcement, the organization said turnout last month was also affected by "one of the busiest travel seasons on record and back-to-school activities," leading to a shortfall of 30,000 donations.

"For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don't stop with natural disasters," said Dr. Pampee Young, the organization's chief medical officer. "In fact, in some instances the stress of a disaster can lead to a medical crisis for some individuals battling sickle cell disease." The Red Cross said it is "closely monitoring Hurricane Lee and its potential impact to communities in the Northeast later this week." It said around 700 units of blood and platelets, enough for hundreds of transfusions, went uncollected when Hurricane Idalia hit states in the Southeast last month.

Other blood collection organizations say they are not currently experiencing a shortfall but the long-term trend is concerning, CNN reports. Jenny Ficenec, executive vice president of Blood Centers, says the donor base is aging and the number of donors under 30 has almost halved over the last decade. "Less than 20% of blood donations come from 20- to 34-year-olds, and over 45% of blood donations come from donors over 50," Ficenec says. (Read more blood supply stories.)

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