Health

An ‘unprecedented shortage’: Hospitals in Massachusetts are desperate for blood donors

Here's how you can donate this MLK weekend and beyond.

Kristin McCarthy, a phlebotomist for the American Red Cross, takes blood from Jennifer Garrett, of Greenfield, Mass., during a blood drive in Brattleboro, Vt. Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP

Blood donations are critical right now as Massachusetts and the rest of the U.S. faces the worst blood shortage in the past decade, according to the American Red Cross. 

The lack of blood poses a risk to patients around the United States in need of blood transfusions, the organization said.

Type O-positive blood, type O-negative blood, and platelets are the most needed right now, according to the Red Cross website. But all blood types are urgently needed to quell the blood crisis.

Locally, Massachusetts General Hospital is among the health care organizations also sounding the alarm. “#MGH is experiencing an unprecedented and ongoing blood shortage,” the hospital tweeted Thursday. “New and regular blood donors of all types are needed now more than ever.”

Jessica Merill, director of biomedical communication for the American Red Cross, told CNN of a child affected by the current shortage.

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“I know of a teenage cancer patient in New York who recently had to go without a scheduled transfusion due to the lack of available blood,” Merill said. “Imagine how hard it is for a parent to take their sick child home without the treatment they need to feel better.”

The Red Cross currently supplies 40% of the United States blood supply and has had to ration its distribution due to the current shortage.

Many factors are influencing the current crisis, but the COVID pandemic is one of the largest.

According to the American Red Cross, since March 2020, blood donations have seen a 10% decline, with a 62% decline in college and high school blood drives as many of those locations went remote. This age group accounted for about 25% of all donors in 2019, with a drop to about 10% of all donors during the pandemic.

In recent weeks, the organization has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types on hand, as blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled.

They ask donors to book additional appointments as the need for blood is constant regardless of cancellation of blood drives.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, there are several Red Cross Blood Drives in and around Boston. Here are some of the sites where appointments are available:

Boston Blood Donation Center

274 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

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Saturday, January 15 — 7:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m.

Sunday, January 16 — 7:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m.

Monday, January 17 — 12-8:15 p.m.

Dedham Blood Donation Center

80 Rustcraft Road, Dedham MA 02026

Saturday, January 15 — 7:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday, January 16 — 7:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Monday, January 17 — 12:15-6:45 p.m.

Weymouth Blood Donation Center

208 Main Street, Weymouth, MA 02188

Saturday January 15 — 07:00 AM – 03:15 PM

Sunday, January 16 — 07:00 AM – 03:15 PM

Monday, January 17 — 11:00 AM – 07:15 PM

Potential donors can find more information on how and where to donate blood at redcrossblood.org, or check with your closest hospital. To make an appointment to donate at Mass. General, visit massgeneral.org/blood-donor.

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