American Red Cross declares national blood shortage, including in East Texas

American Red Cross declares national blood shortage, including in East Texas
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:43 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The American Red Cross is experiencing a national blood shortage, a critically low blood supply level that has dropped nearly 25 percent since early August.

According to the Red Cross, the shortage is partly due to the drop in donations in August which is one of the busiest travel months, along with back-to-school activities. But on top of that, Hurricane Idalia in the southeast has further strained the blood supply.

“What happens when we have natural disasters, blood drives in those areas are cancelled. So that puts a strain. But also, we see an increase in the need for blood during natural disasters,” said Karen Holt, the American Red Cross East Texas Chapter Executive Director.

30,000 donations were lost in August because of this, she said.

The Red Cross needs to collect about 12,500 blood donations a day, serving patients at about 2,500 hospitals.

“The American Red Cross supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood. And so, when you see a 25 percent shortage in one month and you compound it by additional percentages, that causes a huge shortage,” said Holt.

In East Texas, CHRISTUS Mother Frances hospital uses about 1,500 units of blood per month. Their supplies are replenished daily, but they say there is always a need for more.

And UT Health transfuses an average of 960 units of red blood cells per month. They currently have 210 units of red blood cells in their inventory and their par level is considered 200 units with their minimum level considered to be 155 units.

To help with this, blood drives will be held this week in Tyler and Longview to not only help people in disasters, but also to help individuals with sickle cell disease, cancer treatments, and trauma care.

“Their donation is going to save lives. Their donation is needed. Their donation is appreciated, not only by American Red Cross which is a nonprofit organization, but by those patients and those people who are using it and lives are being saved by your donation,” said Briana Adeoye, American Red Cross HBCU Ambassador.

To learn more about how you can donate blood, along with the upcoming drives in East Texas, click here.