Red Cross at 'critical shortage' of type O blood

Jan 21, 2020

Across the country, the American Red Cross is reporting less than a three-day supply of type O blood. That is a problem, since O positive is the most transfused blood type for patient emergencies and medical treatments.

The Red Cross supplies around 40% of the blood used in treatments. It also has the ability to shift blood around if there is a disaster in one area, like a hurricane.

The difficulty is that during the holidays, schedules of donors and donation sites are thrown off and the supply drops off. Red Cross Regional Communications Officer Jay Bonafede said there is just a shortage of donors.

Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

"There is a critical shortage of type O blood and an urgent need for donor of all types but type O, for people that don't know, is the one that's probably the most important to have on the shelf for ongoing patient care," said Bonefede. "Type O positive is the most transfused blood type. Type O negative is the universal blood type. So when someone had an accident or an emergency, that's the kind of blood people will reach for, those emergency personnel."

Around 38% of Americans are eligible to donate and around 3% actually do. That is something the Red Cross and other blood platforms constantly try to change, to make sure more people come in and roll up their sleeves.

"A lot of those regular blood donors and we definitely rely on them. Their routine is thrown off. But in addition to that, again, only 3% of that eligible population donates. So we're always looking for new donors to help ensure that we have that critical supply of needed blood on the shelves at all times," he said.