KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Volunteer spirit is needed more than ever right now to ensure hospitals in East Tennessee have a steady supply of blood for patients.
The American Red Cross has issued a national blood crisis for the first time, saying it is experiencing the worst blood shortage in more than a decade due to lower donor turnout, staffing shortages and canceled blood drives amid the ongoing pandemic.
Here in East Tennessee, MEDIC Regional Blood Center said there are critically low levels of O negative and O positive blood for regional hospitals.
The Red Cross issued a joint statement Monday with America's Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, saying blood centers across the country are reporting dangerously low levels of blood supply -- less than a single day's worth of certain critical blood types.
"If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed," the three said.
The Red Cross said dangerously low blood supplies are posing the risk of forcing doctors to make difficult priority decisions about which patients receive blood transfusions.
"In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met," it said.
All three are urging healthy people to donate blood with their local blood centers, and are also asking local businesses to encourage employees to schedule donations through 2022.
People with O positive and O negative blood, in particular, are encouraged to donate blood and platelets when possible because those blood types are critically low and in high demand.
How to Donate
MEDIC Regional Blood Center collects and provides blood to 24 hospitals in 22 counties in East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky.
To donate, you simply need to schedule an appointment at one of its donor centers or mobile drives by heading to MEDIC's website at this link or calling (865) 521-2682.
From January 10 to 14, MEDIC is hosting "Roll Up Your Sleeve Week." All donors will receive a special shirt, coupons to Salsarita's and Texas Road House, and will be entered into a drawing for a $500 gift card to Food City.
The American Red Cross of East Tennessee also collects blood and platelet donations. You can make appointments on the Red Cross website, its Blood Donor app, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.