Emergency blood and platelet shortage: Red Cross supplies drop to lowest post-summer levels since 2015

Blood donor proudly shows off bandaged arm after giving with the American Red Cross to help patients in need. Photo by Brad Zerivitz/American Red Cross

Donor turnout sharply declines while patient needs remain high

The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood and platelet shortage and must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month for the blood supply to recover and meet hospital and patient needs. Donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to give now and in the weeks ahead to overcome this current shortage.

Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country due to the delta variant. As cases spiked in August, blood donor participation decreased about 10%, but blood product distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks.

Historically low inventory levels

The national Red Cross blood inventory is the lowest it’s been at this time of year since 2015, with less than a day’s supply of certain blood types in recent weeks. The supply of types O positive and O negative blood, the most needed blood types by hospitals, dropped to less than a half-day supply at times over the last month − well below the ideal five-day supply.

“Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds as donors are more available to give than during the busy summer months, but this year has presented a unique and serious challenge,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the Red Cross. “While it’s clear the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our minds, the Red Cross asks the public to remember donating blood and platelets is essential to the many patients that rely on lifesaving transfusions every day.”


Don’t wait. People across the country depend on the generosity of blood donors. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As a thank-you, all those who come to donate through Sept. 30 and help tackle the emergency blood shortage will receive a limited-edition football-inspired T-shirt while supplies last, plus a coupon for a free haircut via email from Sport Clips Haircuts.*

All those who come to donate in October will receive a link by email to claim a free Zaxby’s® Signature Sandwich reward or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.**

Clyde Welch, Red Cross volunteer driver, loads blood platelets and other blood products into a Red Cross van for delivery to patients in need at hospitals. Photo by Craig Miller/American Red Cross

Blood drive safety

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Sept. 27-Oct. 15:


9/27/2021: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., Joplin Elks Lodge #501, 1802 West 26th Street

10/1/2021: 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2107 South Indiana Avenue

10/8/2021: 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Hideout Harley Davidson, 5014 Hearnes Boulevard

*Terms and conditions apply. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Sport-Clips.

**Terms and conditions apply. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Zaxbys.