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Hospitals Continue To Face Severe Blood Shortages

The FDA says that facilities that collect blood donations throughout the United States should be testing donations for Zika within 12 weeks.
Toby Talbot
AP Photo

The American Red Cross is appealing to Mainers for emergency donations of blood as a critical shortage continues across the region and elsewhere in the country, especially for the most in-demand blood types.

"Right now, with Type O blood, many times we have less than a one-day supply on hand. And that is not a comfortable place to be," says Mary Brant with American Red Cross, Northern New England Region.

Brant says blood is being used more quickly than it's coming in, with hospitals using about 12 percent more blood than usual each day for the past three months.

"They're seeing patients who had put off receiving care during the pandemic. They are presenting with more advanced disease progressions, requiring increased blood transfusions."

And Brant says hospitals are reporting an upswing in trauma and injury cases as well.

Brant says only 3% of the population donates blood, and only about 7% of Americans have the rare Type O negative blood, which can be used in any patient, and is critical for emergency transfusions.