U.S. Blood Supply at Dangerously Low Levels: Red Cross

TUESDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Blood supplies have dropped to dangerously low levels in the United States, according to the American Red Cross.

Although the group must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood every day to meet nationwide demands, the Red Cross reported it received 50,000 fewer blood donations in June. Right now, only half the blood products that were in supply this time last year are currently available. The organization said donors of all blood types are needed to meet the needs of patients this summer.

"There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren't readily available," Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a Red Cross news release. "In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood. We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't get to that point."

Unseasonably warm weather may have contributed to the shortage in blood donors, the Red Cross noted. The group explained that many regular donors may already be involved in their summer activities and not taking the time to give blood or platelets.

Complicating matters, the Red Cross pointed out the Fourth of July falls during the middle of the week this year, which has reduced the number of planned blood drives. The Red Cross called upon individual donors to make appointments to give blood in the near future. The organization noted one pint of blood can save more than one life.

To learn more about becoming a blood or platelet donor, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org. Blood donors must be at least 17 years old, weight at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. To give blood, people also need a blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification.

More information

The American Red Cross provides more information on how to donate blood.

SOURCE: The American Red Cross, news release, June 25, 2012

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