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Red Cross asks for blood donations as COVID surge depletes supplies

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 11:36 AM CDT
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(CNN) - An urgent call for help has been made by the Red Cross, which said it’s in an emergency situation.

Life-saving blood supplies are dangerously low, and the organization blames a surge in COVID-19 cases for the shortage.

Shaun Brenna has given 500 blood donations since 1999.

“It’s my way of giving back,” he said.

It’s a milestone for Brennan, who has rolled up his sleeves for the Red Cross, even through the pandemic.

“When you think of the lives you could be saving, it’s a no brainer to me,” he said.

However, the Red Cross said COVID-19 has kept many others away, especially the past several months as the U.S. has been grappling with the delta variant.

“This is an emergency,” Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross, said.

Right now, there’s a dire demand for blood. The Red Cross says its national inventory is the lowest it’s been at this time of year since 2015.

There’s less than a day’s supply of certain blood types.

“There are concerns for hospitals who may have to delay elective procedures or surgeries,” Lasky said. “Worst-case scenario is that hospitals won’t have the blood for emergency type situations.”

The organization estimates it will need to collect around 10,000 additional units each week for a month above what’s normally donated in order to make up for the shortage.

While there’s a need for all blood types, the Red Cross is most in need of type O.

“O-negative is universal and is used in emergency situations and O-positive is nearly universal and is the most commonly transfused blood type,” Lasky said.

The Red Cross says safety measures are in place to keep donors and staff protected from COVID-19, including mask and appointment requirements.

“It’s all about saving lives,” Brennan said.

Anyone interested in donating blood to the Red Cross can make an appointment through the Red Cross app, through their website, redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-red-cross.

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