FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — The American Red Cross is critically low on certain blood that’s a go-to for hospital emergencies
The Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type-O blood available for treatments. and more importantly, emergencies.
“If you are type O-negative, if you’re type-O positive, we really, really need your blood,” said executive director for the Western Maryland Chapter, Greater Chesapeake Region of the American Red Cross, Eric Anderson.
According to the Red Cross, O-positive blood can be given to patients with any positive blood type and account for more than 80 percent of the population.
Just seven percent of the country has type O-negative blood, and that’s the kind that can be given to anyone.
“If there’s any emergency where doctors have a life or death situation and they don’t have time to type the blood, they can grab O-negative right off the shelves and give it to somebody– but that means that we need O-negative to be on the shelves,” said Anderson.
Anderson says the shortage is due in part because of the post-holiday season lull. Donors may travel to visit family, and when the time comes to get back to work, they’ve missed out on donating.
“We come right out of the holiday and so people have less time to give blood,” Anderson said.
And it’s this time of year where many fall ill. According to the CDC, by the end of the second week of January, Maryland and nearby Virginia and West Virginia showed high flu-like illness levels.
“Particularly this year, there’s a flu strain that’s spreading across the country and blood donors are getting sick and they’re having to cancel their appointments,” explained Anderson, “In some cases, it’s causing a great impact on blood drives.”
Rachel Morningstar was one of the only donors taking up a chair at the Frederick donation center. She says she’s in the medical field and understands the importance that just a couple of hours of time could do for someone else.
“It only takes a little bit of your time and I know lots of people have a fear of needles but a tiny little sting to possibly save a life, why not?” Morningstar reasoned.
Anderson says the American Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,500 platelet donations daily for patients who rely on blood to survive.