MILWAUKEE — January is National Blood Donor Month and with the American Red Cross facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade, the need to encourage giving is more important than ever.
Blood can’t be made or stockpiled. Officials tell us that fewer people are able to donate because of surging COVID-19 cases. Pair that with unpredictable winter weather forcing them to cancel appointments, and that creates a recipe for the nation’s worst blood shortage in years.
“We're doing our best to try to stock the hospital shelves. But frankly, we can't collect the blood fast enough,” said Dr. Pampee Young, Chief Medical Officer for American Red Cross.
Some of the hardest hit by the drought in donations are patients, who may have to delay necessary treatments for cancer, accidents or serious illness.
“Our blood supply right now is in dire stage, one of the most profound shortages we've experienced in well over a decade, and it's posing risks to patient care,” said Dr. Young.
Locally, the Red Cross of Wisconsin says 60 percent of donation appointment slots are open. The biggest need for hospitals is Type O blood, which is also known as the universal donor and right now, the Red Cross says most hospitals in the state have about a one-day supply, when they would like to have a five-day reserve.
“When we start seeing those numbers, particularly as we get an idea of appointments and people coming through the door with blood drives, that is a big area of concern and why we're calling this a crisis,” said Justin Kern, Communications Director for American Red Cross of Wisconsin.
People are encouraged to reach out to the Red Cross and schedule an appointment. Click here to find a blood donation center near you. They just ask that you’re healthy and have patience when you do.