Blood supply shortage lingers on

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The American Red Cross continues to experience emergency blood and platelet shortage that has caused the blood supply to drop to the lowest post-summer level in at least six years. Blood donor turnout has also decreased as summer came to an end.

"We saw a 10% decrease in donations in August as COVID was spiking. Usually, this is a time where we rally up and bring our donations up, but we haven’t seen that donor turnout," said Hanna Malak, a regional donor services executive at the American Red Cross.

Throughout the past 18 months, the multitude of shortages has made its way to a shortage of blood supply.

"It’s definitely been a roller coaster. The need for blood is constant. You can’t collect blood one day and be good to go for the rest of the year. It has a shelf life. We like to have about a five-day supply of blood in case of emergencies, and right now we’re struggling to have a one-day supply," Malak said.

The American Red Cross executive reminds us that although COVID may be the main topic of discussion, blood is always a critical commodity.

"Routine surgeries are still happening, people still have sickle cell disease. People still have cancer. Car accidents are still happening ,so the need is very real," he added.

There are vulnerable groups out there that need the resource, especially those with sickle cell disease, according to the American Red Cross.

"It’s really critical for our African American and our Black community to come out and donate blood. There are over 100,000 Americans that have sickle cell disease, mostly in the Black community and it’s best for them to get that blood transfusion from someone within their ethnic group," Malak advised.

The American Red Cross states that COVID vaccinations do not impact blood donations, nor will the organization ask about vaccination status.

While donations have dropped, hospital demand for blood remains strong. Donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment.