ST. LOUIS — The American Red Cross is facing a looming shortage of the blood types most needed by patients and is calling on eligible donors with O negative, B negative and A negative blood to give now to prevent an emergency.
Blood donation appointments can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting www.redcrossblood.org or calling (800) RED CROSS.
Overall blood donations in the Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region have been approximately 3,000 fewer per month in June and July this year than the previous 10 months of the year. When demand for the most-needed types begins to outpace donations, the Red Cross alerts donors to help restock the shelves.
Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Types B negative and A negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients. Eligible donors are encouraged to donate double red cells — a process where two units of red cells are collected while most of the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor — where available.
Platelets and type AB plasma also needed
Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need. Platelets — a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone narrow recipients — must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Donors with type AB blood are urged to give blood or platelets to restock the plasma supply. Type AB donors have the universal plasma type, which can be given to patients of all blood types.
Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may be eligible to donate again and help patients like an expectant mother at a Red Cross-supported hospital who is receiving nearly 100 units of blood products a week until she delivers. Her need alone could add up to 1,100 units.
How to donate blood
The free Blood Donor App — available in app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 — not only makes appointment scheduling easy, but donors can also access their digital donor card and be notified when their donation is distributed to a hospital. Donors can also visit www.redcrossblood.org or call (800) 733-2767 to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors in the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
For information, visit www.redcross.org.