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The American Red Cross is facing severe blood shortage
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The American Red Cross is facing severe blood shortage

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American Red Cross

The Red Cross needs blood and platelet donations.

The American Red Cross in the Greater Carolinas Region is experiencing nearly a 70% decrease in the number of donors signing up to give blood amid a national blood shortage the organization is facing.

The shortage of blood donors exists in the Triad, the Charlotte area and Asheville, said Maya Franklin, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

“We have a pretty steady amount of blood drive hosts, but there are not enough people coming to donate blood,” Franklin said. “We encourage people to fill those appointments that are available and are convenient for those people.”

The American Red Cross is facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade, the organization said in a statement. The news coincides with January being National Blood Donor Month.

“Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions, and who will need to wait until more products become available,” the Red Cross said.

Blood and platelet donations are needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, the organization said. Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to give in the weeks ahead, the Red Cross said.

The organization is facing a blood shortage because of COVID-19, including about 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations, the organization said.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of blood types and has had to limit blood products distributions to hospitals, the Red Cross said.

The recent holiday season and winter also are contributing to a lack of people making appointments to donate blood, Franklin said.

In addition, the pandemic has contributed to a 62% decrease in blood drives in schools, colleges and universities, the Red Cross said.

“The Red Cross recognizes that there may not be an immediate appointment available — but the Red Cross still needs donors,” Franklin said. “The Red Cross is grateful for donors’ understanding as the organization works tirelessly to meet the needs of patients.”

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Medical Center are among the hospitals that receive their supply of blood from the Red Cross, she said.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is closely monitoring and managing its supply of blood, said Eryn Johnson, a spokeswoman for Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

“It’s essential for individuals with all blood types to donate and especially imperative for those who have Type O positive or Type O negative blood — individuals with Type O blood are considered ‘universal donors,’ meaning anyone can receive these particular red blood cells,” Johnson said.

“Wake Forest Baptist encourages those who are able to donate blood to connect with their local American Red Cross or other blood suppliers for sign-up options,” Johnson said.

Novant Health Inc. also has an adequate amount of blood on hand for its patients’ care, said Dallas Britt, a spokesman for Novant Health.

Novant Health has community hospitals in Clemmons, Kernersville and Thomasville in the Triad, along with Forsyth Medical Center and Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem.

Novant Health has practices in place to manage expected and unexpected blood shortages, a Novant Health spokesperson said. This includes the coordination of inventory among its facilities in addition to policies outlining the appropriate use of blood products.

The organization also encourages people who are able to give blood to consider doing so as soon as possible, the spokesperson said.

Amid the national blood shortage, Novant Health “has the continued ability to care for patients, and patients should seek care when they need it,” the spokesperson said.

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@jhintonWSJ

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