Written by Sam Antenucci
We underestimate the importance of the letters A, B, and O. When these letters are missing from a sentence, it ceases to make sense. Likewise, these letters hold the utmost importance in our hospitals. Representing the main blood type groups, they can mean the difference between life or death. Unfortunately, hospitals nationwide have been going through extreme shortages in our blood supplies and have reached dangerously low levels.
In response to the shortages, The Red Cross is kicking off The Missing Types Campaign to address and bring awareness to the shortages during the summer months. Since 2013, there has been a decreasing number of Red Cross donors, declining by 80,000 people each year. To make matters worse, every two seconds, someone in the U. S. needs a blood transfusion. This disproportion in donors and the high demand of blood has left many hospital’s supplies low and shelves empty.
U.S. Health officials state that over 13 million units of blood are needed yearly to keep up with the demand for patients in need. Though the Red Cross provides 40% of that blood, only 3% of the population donates annually. The frightening reality of going to the hospital and needing a blood transfusion, only to find your type is no longer available, is one many patients will soon have to face.
Without the generosity of blood donors, patients with various cancers, traumas, and chronic diseases might not be able to get the blood that they desperately need to stay alive and healthy. Fortunately, this was not the case for a brave 2-year-old, Lindsey Crowder. At the time of her lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis, Lindsey and her family went through a two-year chemotherapy regiment that put her into remission. However, once Lindsey turned six, she relapsed and had to rely on over 100 different blood transfusions to keep her healthy and give her another chance to recover. Lindsey’s mother, Lisa recalled, “Without the generous donors, I don’t know where we would be. Which is why we are now donors.”
Normally, you might not realize the importance of the letters A, B, and O, until they are gone. Likewise, these letters are vanishing from our hospitals shelves, leaving many critical patients without the blood they desperately need. You are the missing type, and by donating this summer season, you can save three lives with your life saving donation. You can give life to more patients like Lindsey by signing up for a blood drive near you on the Red Cross’s website: http://www.redcrossblood.org/give. You can also read more stories like Lindsey’s and see how your donation will make a difference to those in need, here at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/how-blood-donations-help.html.