This message is from Chris Hrouda, President, Red Cross Biomedical Services:
I am reaching out to alert you that last month the Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer type O blood donations than needed—causing these donations to be distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. As such, the American Red Cross is issuing a critical shortage appeal for type O blood donations, nationwide on Tuesday, May 14.
This shortage is particularly relevant given that May is Trauma Awareness Month and the unique role type O blood donations play in the treatment of trauma patients. Right now, the Red Cross has just six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but more than double that amount is needed every day.
When Seconds Count—Type O is Critical
As you know, type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there’s not enough time to determine a patient’s blood type in the most serious situations.
According to Dr. Jennifer Andrews, a pediatric hematologist who oversees the blood bank at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, “O negative is like liquid gold to us in the blood bank and especially to our colleagues in the trauma service. Oftentimes trauma victims are brought to our hospital in extremis dying of their injuries and we don’t have enough time to get their blood type here in our blood bank. So very commonly trauma centers, across the U.S. will give them O negative blood red blood cells when we don’t know their blood type because that’s compatible with every blood type.”
How You Can Help
Schedule a blood donation appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or saying “Alexa, schedule a blood donation appointment.” While type O is critically needed, platelet and blood donors of all types are urged to give now to help trauma patients and others who depend on lifesaving blood products.
We also recognize that not everyone is able to give and ask for your help in recruiting a family member or friend to give on your behalf, spreading the word on social media, or volunteering at a local blood drive. Interested individuals can also sign up to host a blood drive in the months ahead.
We all can play an important role in helping to ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients who are counting on us. Thank you.