NEW JERSEY — The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to prevent a prolonged blood shortage.

The Red Cross collected some 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day than is needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. During this period, about 1,350 fewer blood drives were hosted by volunteer sponsor groups than are required to meet patient needs, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

 “Many people may not realize that blood products are perishable, and the only source of lifesaving blood for patients is volunteer blood donors,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “When donations decline — as they did around the holidays and may further decline if severe winter weather and flu season pick up — lifesaving medical treatments could be delayed.”

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Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types on hand —well below the ideal five-day supply needed to respond to emergencies and daily hospital needs. Blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, according to the organization.

All eligible donors, especially platelet donors and blood donors with type O blood, are urged to make an appointment to give in the coming days to help restock the shelves for hospital patients. Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Volunteer blood drive hosts are also critically needed to prevent the shortage from worsening this winter. 

To ensure the safety of blood donation for both donors and recipients, all volunteer blood donors are evaluated to determine their eligibility to give blood. If you did not meet eligibility requirements in the past, you may be able to donate at another time.

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