With supplies dangerously low, Red Cross declares first-ever blood crisis

The Red Cross says it is facing a national crisis, as the pace of blood donations across the country, continues to fall behind demand. In real terms, it means a sizable medical emergency might not have enough blood to properly treat it and that some elective surgeries might have to wait.

At the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center headquarters in Houston, the refrigerators that hold the blood supplies are dangerously sparse. Some critical types, like O-negative, have nothing to offer. All this, while hospital demand is up significantly year-over-year. With 170 hospitals to service, demand required a thousand donations a day to keep up. 

RELATED: American Red Cross reports national blood crisis, urges donations amid shortage

"Right now, we're sitting on a one-day supply of blood," says the Blood Center's Cameron Palmer. "We typically need a three-day supply to better serve our community."

In the center's 'donation room', there is a small collection of regulars. James Mosher says he donates every eight to ten weeks but still has to make the effort to get to a donor center that's not always convenient. 

"I recently moved, and this one used to be very close," he says. "But it's not that big of a hassle; at least, not to me."

The big culprit, of course, is COVID. It's kept people away, who are concerned about exposure, while businesses and universities that would normally schedule regular blood drives, have sent workers and students home. 

"The convenience of walking into a conference room or outside to a donor-carriage (to donate blood), they don't have those conveniences and a lot of our at-home workers are donating less frequently," says Palmer.


Thankfully, there are committed donors, like Ashton Perry, who regularly spend several hours donating blood platelets. 

To those who might be reluctant, he says, "I know it might be hard, given all that's going on, but if you have time in your schedule, just give it a chance and donate."

To make a blood donation, you can find a location at: https://www.giveblood.org/donate/find-a-location/