Red Cross blood supply cut in half amid 'staggering' donor decline

The American Red Cross said its blood supply levels have been cut in half as social-distancing and stay-at-home orders have caused fewer people to donate, The New York Times reported. 

Across the country, collection drives at offices, schools and churches have been canceled to comply with stay-at-home orders. 

For a while, the drop in donations weren't critical because supply and demand fell at the same time, as hospitals canceled most elective surgeries and far fewer people were getting injured in car crashes and other accidents. 

But now that hospitals are resuming elective surgeries and many people are leaving the house more often, the number of donations has not increased, according to the Times

Chris Hrouda, president of biomedical services for the American Red Cross, which collects about 40 percent of the country’s blood donations, told the Times that there's been a "staggering" drop in blood supply. The Red Cross usually has enough blood to meet the country's needs for five days; it currently has less than two days' worth. 

On May 31, the Red Cross had to stop sending hospitals their full blood orders and could fill only 75 percent of them, Mr. Hrouda told the Times. He said that if donations don't increase in the next week or two, the Red Cross will have to start filling just half of hospitals' requested blood orders. 

"It puts hospitals and doctors in the precarious position of deciding who gets blood," Mr. Hrouda told the Times

Hospitals are performing even more surgeries than before the pandemic to get through backlogs of operations. 

Brian Gannon, chief executive of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Texas, said he told about 100 hospitals that get blood from his center to slow down their elective procedures, according to the Times

Read the full article here

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