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Red Cross declares emergency blood shortage, says donations lowest in 20 years

 Phlebotomist Nicole Martinez prepares to draw blood from a donor's arm on March 23.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
Phlebotomist Nicole Martinez prepares to draw blood from a donor's arm on March 23.

The American Red Cross announced an emergency blood shortage as it experiences the lowest number of people donating blood in the past 20 years.

During that time, the number of people donating has decreased by over 40%.

The Red Cross must collect over 13,000 blood donations daily to meet the needs of patients at about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. The organization experienced a nearly 7,000-unit shortfall in donations between Christmas and New Year’s.

Donations have dipped since late October.

“One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, said in a statement.

When fewer people donate, it affects the availability of blood products for those in need of emergency blood transfusions. Another reason the shortage has accelerated in recent years is the shift to more people working remotely post-pandemic, making it a challenge to meet donors at blood drives, the organization said.

“One of the things we’ve noticed is that less people have been able to commit their time and come to different locations and donate their blood,” said Adolph Aguirre, executive director of the Red Cross’ Dallas-Fort Worth Metro West Chapter. “We’re looking for blood donors to alleviate the shortage and ensure that lifesaving medical procedures are not delayed.”

In order to donate whole blood with the Red Cross, people must be:

  • At least 17 years old 
  • At least 110 pounds
  • In good health and feeling well 

Additional eligibility criteria are related to specific medications, medical conditions and the personal history of would-be donors.

What are some conditions that disqualify people from donating blood?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), leukemia, lymphoma, HIV, high blood pressure (if above 180/110), tuberculosis

If you can’t make it to a blood drive, you can make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-733-2767.

The Red Cross expects the shortage to continue as winter weather and seasonal respiratory illnesses, including the flu and RSV, affect donor turnout.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

David Moreno is the health reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact him at david.moreno@fortworthreport.org or @davidmreports on X, formerly known as Twitter.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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David Moreno| Fort Worth Report