The Red Cross has declared a blood shortage– the number of people donating has dropped 10% since covid began. The majority of blood drives are college campus associated, so covid has led to a decrease there as well, especially with recent cancellations due to an increase in the omicron variant. This combines with a typical seasonal decline as travel becomes more difficult during the winter months.
The Red Cross is responsible for 40% of the blood supply, and with the shortage, hasn’t been able to meet the needs of hospitals requesting blood.
Blood, like the majority of human tissues, can’t be fabricated in the laboratory. The only source of blood for people that need transfusions is blood from donors. While researchers are looking into ways to grow organs, and artificial skin has been approved by the FDA, the vast majority of human tissue comes from donors. Either organ donors, or grafts from elsewhere in the patient’s body.
The Red Cross is requesting both donations (blood and platelets) and volunteers to help with organizing and operating blood drives. They are currently automatically entering anyone who donates into a drawing for $500 gift card.
All blood types are needed, especially types O- and O+. People are still eligible to donate if they have had the covid vaccine, though they’ll need to know which vaccine they received. More about eligibility requirements can be found here.