The American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis Tuesday. The organization said blood donations had fallen by as much as 10% during the pandemic. That decline aligned with the surge of the delta variant, compounded with staff shortages and blood-drive cancelations.
The American Red Cross said it normally keeps three days of inventory. Right now, it’s struggling to have enough supply to last one day.
The shortage nationwide is being felt in the Carolinas.
“Every two seconds, someone needs blood," Mariana Vimbela, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, told WCNC Charlotte's Indira Eskieva. "That may be because of an accident. A mother who's giving birth might need blood. It may be someone who's going through a disease, some sort of sickness.”
In the Greensboro area, Novant Health confirmed hospitals are feeling the strain. Dr. Patrick Wilson told WFMY News 2 on Tuesday he's uneasy about the crisis because he now has to carefully assess blood supplies day by day.
“When inventory goes down, we become less confident in our ability to ensure we can take care of all patients when they need that blood,” he said. “We’re very uncomfortable right now. Novant is no different than any other health system in the country.”
So far, Wilson said Novant hasn't had to significantly change their plans for patient care. But he warns one case could shift everything.
"One car accident, one patient involved in an accident could match what my daily inventory is for blood supplies for that particular blood type," he said. “If something like that were to happen that could impact patients later in the day or the next day.”
Where you can donate
The Red Cross is offering chances for a trip to the Super Bowl as an incentive for people to roll up their sleeves. Anyone who donates through Jan. 31, 2022, will be entered for two tickets to the game, round-trip airfare, three nights of lodging, and a $500 gift card for expenses.
The American Red Cross of the Greater Carolinas Region has maps online that show where the closest donation sites are. You can see them online and schedule a donation.
The need for volunteers is also very real. If you want to help in that capacity, apply here.
What blood types are needed most
All blood types are welcome to donate because the need is so dire, but the Red Cross especially needs O blood types to donate because O negative is often referred to as the "universal blood type" since people of any blood type can receive it.
Whether it's a fear of needles or you just haven't done it before, donating blood is easy, and the Red Cross outlines some nice FAQs for those who may be hesitant or inexperienced with blood donation. It also addresses what you should do before, during and after your donation to ensure an easy process. Rest assured you should not be worried if you're a first-time blood donor.