Red Cross declares blood emergency in DC region

The American Red Cross has declared a blood-supply emergency in the D.C. area and issued an urgent call for donations.

“We need you to come out and donate blood. This is a very serious situation,” Regina E. Boothe Braton, of the American Red Cross, said. “And when I say serious, I cannot stress that enough.”

Braton said there is a less than two-day supply of blood on hand. The need for the universal blood type O is critical.

“In an emergency situation, in a trauma situation, doctors don’t have time to test a person’s blood type so they reach for the universal blood type, and that’s why O blood type is so important,” Braton said. “We are also deficient on all other blood types.”

kaitlyn adams
Kaitlyn Adams, of Prince George’s County, Maryland, needs blood transfusion every three weeks. (Courtesy American Red Cross)

Kaitlyn Adams, 20, of Prince George’s County, is an example of someone saved by blood donations. The rising junior at Morgan State has sickle cell anemia and requires nine units of blood every three weeks.

Hospitals in the Metropolitan Washington area are served by both the American Red Cross and Inova Blood Donor Services, which is also experiencing dire shortages.

As of Thursday evening, Inova had one unit of its desired inventory of 300 for O positive blood. It had two units of the desired inventory of 75 for O negative.

On Friday, there’s a “Battle of the Badges” to help boost area blood supplies.

First responders in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will compete Friday to see which gets the most votes from blood donors: the police or fire department. The event hopes to boost area blood supplies.

The winner will get bragging rights and a traveling trophy.

“Last year it was the Prince George’s County Police Department that took the trophy. They helped to save up to 150 lives with the donations they were able to garner,” Braton said.

“They’re hoping to double that this year, and I tell you we need it,” she said.

The Battle of the Badges blood drive is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kentland Community Center on 2413 Pinebook Ave. in Landover.

You can find American Red Cross donation locations online or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Locations for Inova Blood Donor Services can be found online, as well, or by calling 1-866-BLOODSAVES (1-866-256-6372).

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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