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American Red Cross faces blood shortage

Posted at 5:38 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 19:38:35-04

TWIN FALLS — In a typical year, the American Red Cross tends to receive plenty of donors following the summer months due to people returning from trips. However, this year the Red Cross is experiencing a national shortage and is attempting to encourage more people to donate.

“We are at the lowest point for this time of year, in the past six years right now,” said Matt Ochsner, the Communications Director for the Red Cross for Idaho and Montana."

"For a point of reference, we try to keep a five-day supply of type O negative blood on hand nationwide," said Ochsner. "Type O negative is the type of blood hospitals reach for during a trauma or an accident because it's the universal blood type. But now, instead of a five-day supply, we have a half-day supply.

There are several factors officials attribute to the shortage. One of which is because a lot of patients seeking treatment at hospitals may have had their procedure delayed due to COVID-19. Now that they're back on schedule, the demand has increased.

The other fact is also COVID-19 related. The Red Cross has had difficulty with scheduling blood drives.

“It’s harder to host some blood drives. We’re not getting into some businesses and into some schools that we were before," said Ochsner. "There are more people working from home, so if we do get into a business, we might not have as many potential donors as we did pre COVID.”

If the shortage continues, officials anticipate local hospitals could be impacted most.

“That blood needs to be on those hospital shelves when they need it most," said Ochsner. "What we don’t want to see is elective surgeries, for example, being delayed because of a lack of blood inventory.”

The American Red Cross is now working to spread the word out as much as possible, especially by highlighting the impact one person could make if they choose to donate.

“A blood donation takes less than an hour from start to finish," said Ochsner. "So, an hour of your time and one single donation can save up to three lives.”

For those that wish to donate, the Red Cross does want to remind people that you must be at least 16 years old with parental consent. They have could someone donate if they have been vaccinated? Yes, all that would be needed is to list what vaccine they received.

For more information regarding potential blood drives or other outstanding questions, people can head to the American Red Cross website.