America’s Blood Supply Is ‘Critically Low’ With Lower Donor Turnout & Recent Hurricanes

The American Red Cross announced that the supply has fallen nearly 25% since August.

<p>Getty Images / The Washington Post</p>

Getty Images / The Washington Post

If you've been thinking about donating blood, now is a great time to support your community.

With recent climate disasters—many of which have affected the South—paired alongside summer travel and families preparing kids to return to school, blood and platelet donations to the American Red Cross have slowed by “about 30,000” in August alone, the organization reported. As such, the country’s blood supply has dipped dangerously, falling nearly 25% in just a month. In some locations, blood drives had to be canceled for “back-to-back months of worsening climate-driven disasters.” Amid Hurricane Idalia’s impact in the Southeast, the Red Cross was unable to collect more than 700 life-saving units of blood and platelets during an already critical time. The non-profit is now closely monitoring Hurricane Lee.

As an organization “that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public,” the Red Cross supplies about 40% of the country’s blood in times of need. Their history of services stretches all the way back to Clara Barton in 1881.

“For so many patients living with urgent medical care needs, crises don’t stop with natural disasters,” said the organization’s chief medical officer Dr. Pampee Young. “The need for blood is constant.” In fact, September is Sickle Cell Awareness month, a disease most affecting those of African descent who then require ongoing blood transfusions. About 1,000 babies are born with Sickle Cell each year, the Red Cross reported. Climate disasters and lower donor turnout can put these crucial treatments, as well as the needs of other medical patients who rely on the Red Cross, at risk.

The organization also announced in August that they’re widening the parameters of individuals who can give blood in a “more inclusive, risk-based assessment.”

If you’re eligible to donate, the Red Cross has some September perks lined up to share their gratitude. Donors can receive a limited-edition shirt through September 18, a coupon for a free haircut at Sport Clips, and an automatic entry to win a VIP NASCAR experience.

What better way to support your neighbors than giving blood in such a critical time of need? To prepare for your appointment and boost those iron levels, we’d recommend trying Martina McBride’s flavorful Sauteed Spinach recipe (she shared it in partnership with the Red Cross!) or a juicy Cast-Iron Cowboy Steak.

After all, Southerners show up.

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