Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Red Cross urges donations amid worst blood shortage in decades

Friday, January 21, 2022
The American Red Cross is facing one of the worst blood shortages in decades. To help with the crisis, volunteers can donate blood at SEMO on Jan. 25 and 26.
Graphic courtesy of the American Red Cross

Since the pandemic began, the American Red Cross has experienced its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. In recent weeks, the Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types, especially type O, available. The Red Cross and SEMO Red Cross Club urge those eligible to donate.

Red Cross chief of communications and marketing officer Sharon Watson said hospitals don’t have enough blood on the shelves to handle emergency surgeries, elective surgeries and transfusions for cancer patients.

“[The blood shortage] requires them to then delay some surgeries if these are not emergency surgeries or to delay treatments that can be delayed to be able to meet the needs of the emergency situations,” Watson said.

SEMO Red Cross Club president Kate Appleman said preliminary sign-up for blood drives informs the staff on how many people will be in attendance so they can get an accurate number of phlebotomists for the drive.

“[Blood drives] get a ton of walk-ins because [people] didn't sign up. Then [blood drives] only have like three or four phlebotomists, so it takes forever for them to get through. But if you have a more accurate count, they're able to get you in faster, get more donations and actually have enough time to do it,” Appleman said.

On Jan. 11, the Red Cross partnered with the NFL to tackle the blood shortage. Those who donate blood or platelets will be entered into a drawing to win tickets to the 2022 Super Bowl, a home-theater package and $500 e-gift card.

Anyone who is 17 years old or older and in good health is eligible and encouraged to donate blood. There are exceptions for those who have traveled to high-risk disease countries or have other health conditions.

The University will hold a blood drive Jan. 25 and 26. Students are encouraged to sign up and donate blood. The drive will be in Towers Lobby from 1 to 5 p.m. There is also a blood donation center on 20 S. Mount Auburn Rd. in Cape Girardeau.

For more information and to sign up for a blood drive, visit the Red Cross ​​website.