The American Red Cross says it is experiencing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise – and deplete the nation’s blood inventory. Donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – are urged to make an appointment to give as soon as possible.

According to the Red Cross, right now, hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen demand from trauma centers climb by 10% in 2021, more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide blood transfusions.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” said Dr. Jorge Rios, medical director, of Red Cross Northern New England Region. “As many people begin to enjoy travel and time with loved ones again this summer, patients are relying on the generosity of donors to help ensure they have access to the treatment they need. Please consider blood donation as a summer activity that can help save lives.”

In addition to trauma needs, there is a great hospital demand for blood as people who deferred care during the height of the pandemic present with more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions. Over the last three months, the Red Cross has distributed about 75,000 more blood products than expected to meet these needs. 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 generous blood donors.

The Red Cross is encouraging donors to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now. As a thank-you, those who come to give now through June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Amazon. Schedule an appointment to give blood now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities include:

Lisbon: June 26, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lisbon High School, 2 Sugg Drive.

Brunswick: June 24, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Morong Brunswick, 314 Bath Road; June 28, noon to 5 p.m., Brunswick Hotel and Tavern, 4 Noble St.

Freeport: June 30, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn Freeport, 5 Park St.

Bath: June 21, 1-6 p.m., West Bath Fire Dept, 192 State Road.

Phippsburg: June 22, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sebasco Harbor Resort, 29 Kenyon Road; Topsham June 28, 1-6 p.m., ARC Mid Coast Chapter, 16 Community Way.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

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