The U.S. Red Cross is in urgent need of blood and platelets donations. The organization has reported a critical blood shortage in the United States.

On Monday, the organization fell behind on their goal of 600 units of blood by about 100 donations received. Because of the current shortage in blood supplies, the Red Cross is extending an urgent call for blood and platelets drives that began two weeks ago. In a news release, Nick Gehrig, communications director for Red Cross Blood Services, said the organization continues to have an urgent need for blood and platelet donors.

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There is currently a big number of blood drives scheduled in different states of the U.S. All blood types are needed. Image credit: Red Cross.

Gehrig also expressed the Red Cross’ gratitude with donors actively participating at the blood drives. He emphasized, however, that the urgent call for potential donors is still on, and there are still people in hospitals and health centers who are just waiting for donors to contribute.

Early July, the American Red Cross released an urgent call for residents to donate blood and platelets during the blood drives implemented throughout the country. It is during summer times when the organization usually faces serious blood shortage to supply health institutions.

“We are grateful for those who have already stepped up this summer to give and want to remind those who are eligible that hospital patients are still counting on them to roll up a sleeve,” Gehrig wrote.

Blood shortage since July

The Red Cross argues the critical situation about the blood shortage has been reported since early July. The organization noted it  has previously alerted U.S. citizens about the need for blood and platelet donations.

Although there have been several blood drives in different states of the country, the reality remains the same. The organization does not count with sufficient blood supplies to furnish health institutions and medical centers all around the nation.

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College student donates blood. Image credit: Red Cross.

The Red Cross affirms that in summer, donation levels did raise. However, there is still an alarming situation because currently, blood and platelets are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which has made difficult to rebuild the blood supply.

According to Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo, blood supplies are usually lower in June and early July, however, this year’s shortage has been reported as significantly lower. Many potential donors are on vacation and crucial blood drives at high schools have to be put on hold.

Right now, the national supply has decreased below the five-day level the Red Cross says it is needed to meet the requirements of patients every day. However, the organization argues it does not have sufficient blood supplies for possible disasters or unforeseen emergencies.

The U.S. has lately found cases about possible Zika spread. The Red Cross is not prepared to treat Zika patients that might need blood donations. Zika has led to a decrease in blood donations, since requirements for donating have been extended.

“We had taken a survey across the country and 75% of our donors had said that they were vacationing the week before the 4th of July or the week after. That’s really made a big dent in that time, to where it’s brought us to a point where it’s gone from an urgent need to an emergency need,” said Zydlo.

Zika requirements might have caused blood decreases

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that it is quite possible that the Zika virus could be spread through blood transfusions. Therefore, the agency has strongly recommended the Red Cross that potential donors who are just coming back from Zika-affected countries must fulfill certain requirements before participating in blood drives.

The FDA has advised that potential donors and their partners recently returning from places where the virus is spread must wait at least four weeks before donating blood. Male donors must also meet the requirement for minimum hemoglobin levels as part of FDA’s proposed requirements.

The Zika requirements before blood donations come in urgent times for Red Cross’ supplies. Kirby Winn, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center revealed the center has registered a two percent decrease in blood donations.

There is currently a big number of blood drives scheduled in different states of the U.S. All blood types are needed. The Red Cross is even offering donors an incentive during blood drive taking place during July and August.

To consult the list of blood drives, people can visit or make an appointment by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Source: U.S. Health News