American Red Cross working to alleviate shortages in Wisconsin and nationwide

Supply levels at The Red Cross have fallen nearly 25% since early August
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 8:49 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - As the country faces a nationwide blood shortage, the nation’s largest blood supplier needs your help. Supply levels in The Red Cross have fallen nearly 25% since early August. Right now, the need for blood at hospitals is exceeding the amount being donated.

Back-to-back climate disasters and cancelled appointments have led to the nationwide shortage. The Executive Director of the Red Cross in Wisconsin says a forecasted active fall disaster season is also causing blood drives to be cancelled around the country. She says cancelling drives and appointments doesn’t help when it comes to keeping up with demand.

“It’s critical for patients to receive that care, especially cancer patients who are in need of blood transfusions. So, when we’re not able to keep up with that demand, it’s really impacting those patients who need that lifesaving blood,” said Kathryn Halvorsen, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Wisconsin.

Your donations could be lifesaving for those with sickle cell disease. Transfusions require 100 units of blood per patient each year. The donations also help kids with cancer who will require a blood transfusion sometime during their treatment. The Red Cross needs to collect about 12,500 donations each day to meet these needs. All blood types are needed, but O Positive has the highest demand because it is a universal blood type.

You have a few opportunities coming up to roll up your sleeve and help out the nation’s largest blood supplier. There are two locations hosting blood drives for the American Red Cross in Wausau this week. There is a drive Thursday, Sept. 21 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church from 12-5 p.m. There are a few remaining appointments left. There is also a drive at the Woodson YMCA on Friday.

Halvorsen says that if you schedule an appointment, don’t cancel it. Keeping your appointments will help fight the national blood shortage.

“We’re working around the clock to help meet that demand. And you know, whether it’s coming from here or another area, we are hosting these blood drives constantly and we’re trying to incentivize people to come out and donate and just keep the awareness around that,” said Halvorsen.

If you want to take part, you do have to be at least 16 years of age and have your parents’ consent. Halvorsen said that you can type in blood drives near me on your smart phone or laptop and find a blood drive in your area. You can also track your donation on a map online to see where it goes. The American Red Cross supplies about 40% of U.S. blood donations.