The American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise, thus depleting the nation’s blood inventory.

To help encourage donations, those who give blood through June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email, courtesy of Amazon.

Appointments to give blood can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

The Red Cross is urging donors of all blood types, but especially type O and those giving platelets, to make an appointment to give as soon as possible to prevent delays to critical patient care.

Type O blood is the most common blood type and those with Type O are considered universal donors, meaning anyone can receive it. Type O blood is used in emergency situations when first responders or hospital staff might not have time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Hospitals are currently responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants.

The Red Cross has seen demand for blood from trauma centers increase by 10% in 2021, compared to 2020.

There also great demand for blood due to people who deferred care during the height of the pandemic now presenting with more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions.

As a result of this shortage, some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes. Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled, so it must constantly be replenished by blood donors.

Wake Forest Baptist Health has an adequate blood supply to care for its patients, but it’s still important for people in the community to donate, said hospital spokesman Joe McCloskey.

It’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care when seconds count in emergency trauma situations, said Angela Broome Powley, regional donor services executive of Red Cross Greater Carolinas Region.

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