Red Cross declares ‘blood crisis’; Where can you donate in Tucson?

TUCSON, AZ — Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the American Red Cross is facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade as cases of omicron variants surge in Tucson and other cities across the country.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Red Cross called the shortage a “national blood crisis” forcing doctors to delay life-saving treatments for those in need.

In response, the organization urged Americans to donate blood as soon as possible to “prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.”

“While some types of medical care can wait, others cannot,” said Dr. Red Cross Chief Medical Officer Pampee Young in a statement. “Hospitals still treat accident victims, cancer patients, people with blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, and critically ill individuals, all of whom need blood transfusions. We are doing everything we can to increase blood donations so that every patient can receive medical care and treatments without delay, but without more donors, this is not possible.”

If you’re interested in donating blood, here are some Red Cross blood drives in the Tucson area:

  • January 13: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Richard Elias-Mission Public Library, 3770 S. Mission Road.
  • January 13: 10:45 am – 6:00 pm, Broadway Blood Donation Center Tucson, 7139 E. Broadway Boulevard.
  • January 14: 7:45 am – 6:00 pm, Broadway Blood Donation Center Tucson, 7139 E. Broadway Boulevard.
  • January 15: 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 9252 E. 22nd St.

Search here for other blood donations in the area.

Last year, the Red Cross saw a 34 percent drop in new donors and a 10 percent drop overall since the pandemic began. At the root of the decline: ongoing cancellations of blood donations and staffing restrictions, especially as the number of coronavirus cases rises in almost every state.

According to the Red Cross, the Red Cross supplies nearly 40 percent of the nation’s blood to hospitals in Arizona and other states; However, blood centers across the country say they have less than a day’s supply of some blood types.

According to the Red Cross, hospitals are currently receiving on average 25 percent less blood than requested. Hospitals need blood for surgeries, transplants, cancer treatments and chronic diseases.

The shortage of almost every type of blood affects people in communities across the United States. Among them is Kristen Mill of Spring Grove, Illinois, who suffers from ongoing health problems brought on by a tick bite.

During a recent visit to the hospital for a transfusion, Mill was told the facility did not have blood that matched her blood type and she would have to wait until the correct match was available, she told the Red Cross.

“The hospital came to me and they apologized and said, ‘We’re so sorry, our blood bank is so depleted that we don’t have anyone left to match you,'” Mill said. “It’s very scary, especially when you don’t know if the blood will come because you need it to live.”

January also marks National Blood Donor Month, which focuses on raising awareness of the need for blood donation.

In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross also needs volunteers to help facilitate blood donations in the Phoenix area and elsewhere. Volunteers help by welcoming and registering donors, answering questions, and providing information about the donation process. To volunteer to support Red Cross blood donations, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

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