TUESDAY, Nov. 13, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- There's an urgent need for blood and platelet donations in the United States because donations during September and October fell 21,000 units short of hospital needs, the American Red Cross says.
That means blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are being made.
"Today, the Red Cross asks the American public for help. As we head into the busy holiday season, we are facing a particularly challenging situation and need blood and platelet donors to replenish the blood supply for hospital patients counting on us," said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services.
"Every day, we depend on the generosity of volunteers to roll up a sleeve to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for those in need, and today that need is urgent," Hrouda said in a Red Cross news release.
Mother Nature has wreaked havoc with the blood supply, too, the agency noted. The Red Cross said the number of blood drives hosted by volunteer sponsors and coordinators was down by more than 1,000 in September and October -- a large number canceled due to Hurricanes Michael and Florence.
And with the upcoming holiday season, blood donations are likely to decline as many groups postpone blood drives and regular donors are busy with travel and festivities, the agency said.
It reminds Americans that blood donations cannot be stockpiled, meaning there is a need for donors to give on a regular basis to ensure adequate supplies. Donor blood can be lifesaving for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatments for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
More than 4,300 blood drives are needed to help stop the shortage from continuing throughout the winter, so the Red Cross is asking organizations to host blood drives in December, January and February.
Individuals can make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, going to the Red Cross website, or by calling 1-800-733-2767.
People who are age 17 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Think about inviting a family member, friend or co-worker to donate, too.
The American Red Cross has more on blood donation.