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Northeast Ohio Red Cross in urgent need of blood donations

Northeast Ohio has a half day’s worth of Type O blood left, according to officials. Blood, platelet and plasma donations are desperately needed.

CLEVELAND — The American Red Cross is running out for blood… literally. 

As more folks get back out into the world, the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries is rising, depleting the nation’s blood supply. 

“It’s happening all across the country, including here in Northern Ohio and the greater Cleveland area,” says Jim McIntyre, regional communications director for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.

The blood shortage gripping the nation means donors of all blood types are desperately needed. Right now, however, there’s only a half day’s supply of type O blood left in Northern Ohio.

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“We really need people with type O blood to step up and donate,” says McIntyre.

Dr. Christine Schmotzer, vice-chair of system pathology operations at University Hospitals (UH), says their hospitals have been doing all they can to use blood only when needed, and encourage more people to donate blood.

“We have been working with the blood centers to schedule additional blood drives, and we are keeping a close eye on how much blood we have and use,” says Schmotzer.

Over the past 3 months, the Red Cross – which supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood – has seen a 10 percent uptick in the number of units of blood that hospitals are requesting, compared to the same time frame in 2019.

“We’ve received requests for about 75,000 more blood products than expected,” says McIntyre.

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Every two seconds, someone in the nation needs blood or platelets. Around 36,000 units of blood, 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed every day. According to The Red Cross, nearly 21 million transfusions are performed every year. 

“Type O-negative is the universal blood type,” says McIntyre, explaining why Type O blood is the most needed in times like this. 

McIntyre went on to say that the blood shortage is another trickle-down effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Patients who previously deferred their treatment are going back now after restrictions have eased from the pandemic, and they’re sicker than they were before. And thus, they need additional transfusions,” says McIntyre.

Less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, so anyone who can donate is being encouraged to roll up their sleeves. If you have the COVID-19 vaccine, you are still eligible to give blood.

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“There’s no way to stockpile blood, we can’t manufacture blood. The only way to get blood is from donations,” says McIntyre.

“A single donation can help multiple people,” says Schmotzer.

To find a local blood drive or blood donation center, click here. 

To see how blood donations are used, check out the informational video in the player below:

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