The American Red Cross is facing its worst national blood shortage in more than a decade.

Supplying 40% of the nation’s blood, a news release said the Red Cross has had to limit blood distributions to hospitals in recent weeks. In fact, on certain days, the release said some hospitals may not receive as much as one-quarter of the blood products requested.

“We are critically low right now,” said Hayley Scott, American Red Cross phlebotomist on Friday at Towne Mall where community drives are held weekly.

Scott said one reason for the blood shortage is that they are seeing a higher need due to more traumas. For instance, she said they recently shifted a lot of blood supplies to assist with victims of last month’s tornado and severe weather outbreak that tore through multiple states, including Kentucky.

Additionally, Scott said COVID-19 and the recent resurgence has affected numbers.

All of this comes as January marks National Blood Donor Month, a time to raise awareness about the need for blood donations when regular seasonal illnesses like colds and the flu, as well as winter weather often leads to a decline in donations.

“We’re holding it together the best we can, trying to get more and more people out,” she said. Scott said they are set up at the Towne Mall in Elizabethtown every other Monday and every Friday to take blood donations.

Among those to give blood Friday was Elizabethtown resident Philip Donahue, a universal blood donor.

“I know how important it is,” he said. “I’m hearing the announcements about the national crisis, shortage, worst ever. … The urgency of it was a motivation to come in.”

If people are interested in donating, they can schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). There is no blood donation waiting period for those who have received a flu shot or a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or booster, so long as they are symptom-free.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or malford @thenewsenterprise.com.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com

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