Detroit Regional Chamber > Member News > American Red Cross: Emergency Blood Shortage May Delay Medical Procedures

American Red Cross: Emergency Blood Shortage May Delay Medical Procedures

January 11, 2024
DETROIT (Jan. 8, 2024) – The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage as the nation faces the lowest number of people giving blood in 20 years. The Red Cross blood supply has fallen to critically low levels across the country, and blood and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to donate to help alleviate the shortage and help ensure lifesaving medical procedures are not put on hold.

The number of people donating blood to the Red Cross has declined by about 40 percent in the past two decades. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the Red Cross experienced a nearly 7,000-unit shortfall in blood donations.

Currently, blood products are going to hospitals faster than blood donations are coming in. As a result, the Red Cross has had to limit distributions of type O blood products – among the most transfused blood types – to hospitals due to supply constraints. Donors of all types – especially those with type O blood and those giving platelets – are urged to give. Platelets are needed for cancer and trauma patients and must be transfused within five days of donation.

“Small changes in blood donor turnout can have a huge impact on the availability of blood products and dramatic consequences for those in need of an emergency blood transfusion,” said Barry Siegfried, M.D., medical director of the Red Cross Michigan Region. “More challenges may lie ahead as the potential for severe winter weather and seasonal illnesses like the flu may compound the dire blood supply situation.”

The shortage comes during National Blood Donor Month, which is celebrated each year since 1970 to honor those who give blood and to encourage more donations during a historically difficult time to meet the needs of patients.

Aimee Meeker can attest to the critical need for having blood products available. Her son, Roland, received lifesaving blood after birth.

Roland was born prematurely at 24 weeks and experienced complications associated with it. Among them, his body was unable to adequately produce red blood cells. Roland received at least five blood transfusions to help with his care, Meeker said. The donated blood came from the Red Cross.

“You don’t know how important it is, until it is really important,” Meeker said of donated blood. “It definitely saves lives.”

Roland spent 117 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at CS Mott Children’s Hospital in 2021. In February, he will celebrate his third birthday. “He’s doing remarkable,” Meeker said, adding that doctors are amazed “at everything he’s overcome.”

To pay tribute to Roland’s early life challenges and the blood transfusions he received, Meeker has embarked on her own personal journey to donate blood.

“My goal was five (donations) but that was just me trying to put in my head to get to at least five,” she said. “I definitely do not plan on stopping at five.”

For years, Meeker was unable to give blood. When her father was in the military, the family was stationed in Germany for several years. At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned blood donations from people stationed in certain parts of Europe in the 1980s and ‘90s to prevent transmission of a deadly brain disease commonly known as “mad cow disease.” The FDA lifted the final section of its ban in 2022 after finding no reported cases of the disease associated with time spent in European countries.

Meeker, a high school biology teacher and Livonia resident, donated blood twice in 2023 and plans to continue giving in the years ahead. She and her husband, Ray, also have a 4-year-old son.

“It’s important to have blood available,” she said. “Roland was able to get those blood transfusions because other people donated.”

Here are three ways to make an appointment to donate:

• Use the Red Cross Blood Donor app
• Visit
• Call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767)

Donors who give blood in January will be automatically entered to win a trip for two to February’s Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Included are a three-night hotel stay, roundtrip airfare, $1,000 gift card for expenses, and other pre-game activities. For details, visit


MEDIA CONTACT: David Olejarz / / 313-303-0606

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or follow us on social media.