Blood banks in Northern California and across the nation are sounding an alarm over a blood and platelet shortage the American Red Cross says amounts to a national emergency, with supplies at their lowest levels in at least six years.
The shortage, now in its third week, is the third and most severe supply crisis at blood banks since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to the Red Cross.
It has spurred blood banks, including those in the North Bay, to plead for donors of all blood types to visit as soon as they can, especially those with O-negative blood, the universal type that can be given to anyone in an emergency.
The Red Cross, which typically experiences a fall bounce-back from summer blood shortages, saw donor turnout drop to 10% of normal in September amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant.
“This is such an unusual situation,” said Justin Mueller, the regional donor services executive for the American Red Cross’s Northern California coastal region. “Throughout this pandemic, it’s been ‘How are we going to make sure we have enough blood products?’ because the need is absolutely still there―and quite frankly, that’s what we’re tasked with each and every day.”
The Red Cross is the nation’s largest supplier of donated blood, providing supplies to hospitals, surgery centers and other health care facilities. They aim to maintain a 5-day supply of all blood types, but report stockpiles of O-positive and O-negative blood have dipped to less than a half-day supply in recent weeks. There’s also been a critical need for platelets, blood particles that help with clotting and have a five-day shelf life.
Upcoming blood drives in Sonoma County
An upcoming Vitalant blood drive:
Oct. 19 at Sonoma State University at the Bloodmobile in Parking Lot D located at 1801 E. Cotati Ave. in Rohnert Park from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
The Vitalant donation center in Santa Rosa is located at 3505 Industrial Dr., which is open everyday. For more information on times and to make an appointment, visit vitalant.org.
Red Cross blood drives include:
Oct. 19 in Santa Rosa from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the American Red Cross Chapter located at 5297 Aero Drive.Oct. 20 in Petaluma from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Calvary Chapel of Petaluma located at 1955 S. McDowell Blvd.
For more information and to make an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.org.