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American Red Cross declares nationwide blood shortage, including in Charlotte

Copied from a Claire Donnelley story 2021 The credit is on the photo

The American Red Cross has issued a national blood shortage alert. The organization says blood donations have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years, including in Charlotte.

Organization officials say blood donations are down 40% nationwide. They predict some hospitals may be forced to postpone surgeries and other treatments if donations do not increase soon.

In Charlotte, Red Cross executive Angela Powely says the blood inventory is critically low, especially for certain blood types.

"Inventory levels for O negative and O positive and B negative products are all very low," Powely said. "O negative and O positive units, which are what hospitals use the most are in very short supply, only a few days."

Platelets, a blood product with a shelf life of a few days, are also in short supply. They are most often used in treating patients with cancer, blood disorders, organ transplants and other serious surgeries. Powely says blood donations are usually low following a holiday season, but other factors are currently at play as well.

"We have a winter storm coming to Charlotte now that could affect our collections," Powely said. "We’re also seeing flu and COVID-19 still around which is causing fewer people to donate so all of these things are concerning us as the inventory is already low."

The American Red Cross provides 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Powely expects their inventory will remain low for a while as they spread the word that blood donors are urgently needed.

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Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.