Red Cross: Critical Type O Blood Shortage; Donors Needed Now

The current math problem facing the American Red Cross is not sustainable. At least 14 units of type O blood are needed virtually every day. Facing a critical shortage, there are just six units of type O blood available on average every day. An urgent call has gone out as a result.

The American Red Cross is facing a critical shortage of type O blood and is urging eligible donors to give now to help patients facing trauma and other life-threatening situations. As a thank-you for helping replenish the blood supply, all donors who come to give blood and platelets now through June 10th will receive a $5 Gift Card by email.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms, where it can be most critical. That means just six units of type O blood are available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed every day. While just 7-percent of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and is also critical in trauma situations.

Cliff Numark is Senior Vice President of Red Cross Blood Services. He says, “All blood types are urgently needed, but we’re facing a critical shortage of type O blood – the blood group most needed by hospitals.” Numark adds,  “Because it’s vitally important for hospitals to have type O blood available when every second counts, type O donors are urged to donate now and make a point to donate often.”

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The Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer type O blood donations than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. Spring break schedules are known to decrease blood donations, and schools, including high schools and colleges, begin to host fewer blood drives in late spring as school years come to an end. Because these drives account for about 20-percent of blood donations during the school year, fewer drives can also greatly affect the blood supply.

Donations needed now

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Eligible donors with type O blood are encouraged to make a whole blood or Power Red donation, where available. During a Power Red donation, donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.

In thanks, all those who come to donate blood and platelets with the Red Cross from now through June 10, 2019, will receive a $5 Gift Card via email. Additionally, those who come to give May 24-28 will receive an exclusive Red Cross-branded T-shirt, while supplies last.

How blood shortages affect hospitals

Blood shortages are not uncommon and can have a direct impact on patient care. Dr. Atif Shafqat, an oncologist and hematologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, says that hospitals face consistent shortages of blood products year-round, even causing some surgeons to delay elective procedures because of individual shortages, noting, “When I ask our blood bank director the toughest part of her job, she always tells me it is these shortages and how to deal with them.”

Despite these challenges, hospitals and the Red Cross work to ensure patients have the blood products they need, but that can only happen when a volunteer donor rolls up a sleeve to give. Shafqat says, “This is all possible thanks to the volunteers and the blood donors who are giving this generous gift.”

How to help

Eligible donors can find a blood and platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting

Upcoming blood donation opportunities May 14-June 8:


  • Buchanan — 5/14/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, Buchanan Moose Lodge, 101 S. Redbud Trail
  • Saint Joseph — 5/15/2019: 11 am – 4:45 pm, Caretel Inns of Lakeland, 3905 Lorraine Path
  • Coloma — 5/21/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, United Methodist Church, 144 S. Church Street
  • Niles — 6/7/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, First Presbyterian Church, 13 S. Fourth Street



  • Dowagiac — 5/31/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, First United Methodist Church, 326 N. Lowe Street


Van Buren

  • South Haven — 5/14/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, Moose Lodge 697, 1025 Wells St
  • South Haven — 5/15/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 06321 Blue Star Memorial Hwy.
  • Lawton — 5/20/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, Evangelical Mennonite Church, 425 Nursery Street
  • Hartford — 5/24/2019: 12 pm – 5:45 pm, Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40-percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, you can visit online at: or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.