Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That need was recently amplified when the American Red Cross declared a national blood shortage in September and called on Americans of all blood types to donate blood to help improve the country’s critically low supply.
This year, fewer donors than needed gave blood during the summer months, which reduced the national blood supply and the distribution of some of the most needed blood types to hospitals, said The Red Cross. With blood drives canceled and blood and platelet donations reduced in areas affected by Hurricane Idalia in August, the blood supply was further strained.
Each day, the Red Cross must collect about 13,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at an estimated 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Blood donations are essential for surgeries, cancer treatments, and treatment of sickle cell disease, among other needs. When supplies are low, it can often take several weeks for inventories to rebound.
“The need for blood is constant,” said American Red Cross Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pampee Young. “Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — an often-invisible emergency that the rest of the world doesn’t see behind closed hospital doors. Now, that urgency has only heightened.”
Since the plea for more blood donors went out, the Red Cross has seen an increase in donations. However, the need for Black blood donors remains great. Fifty-one percent of Black people have Type O blood, which is often in critical supply as hospitals most often need it.
However, many Black people are often skeptical of the process and the U.S. medical system in general, and that can deter them from donating blood.
To help change that, the Red Cross launched Joined by Blood. In this initiative, the non-profit collaborates with Black community organizations such as 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Kier’s Hope Foundation, Inc., HBCUs, and others to host blood drives and encourage Black blood donors to support the transfusion needs of sickle cell disease patients. Sickle Cell Disease is the most prevalent hereditary blood disease in the U.S. and primarily impacts people of African descent.
Joined By Blood is a Red Cross Sickle Cell initiative that, according to the organization, “represents the “powerful connection between blood donors and patients, as one in three African American blood donors are a match for people with sickle cell disease.”
Blood donors of all blood types are still urgently needed. The Red Cross called for a minimum of 10,000 additional blood donations nationwide each week through the end of October to offset the shortage.
Please visit RedCrossBlood.org to find the nearest donation center to donate blood.