Today, the American Red Cross launches the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness for lifesaving blood donations and urge the public to make an appointment to give blood or platelets this summer.

During the Missing Types campaign, the letters A, B and O – the letters representing the main blood groups – are disappearing from brands, social media pages, signs and websites to illustrate the critical role blood donors play in helping patients. When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. And when A, B, O and AB blood types go missing from hospital shelves, patient care and medical treatments are affected.

Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S. Blood can only come from volunteer blood donors, yet only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood. That’s simply not enough to help patients who need transfusions.

“Just last month, the Red Cross experienced a critical shortage of type O blood. When this happens, medical procedures could be delayed because blood products are not available,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “That’s why we are asking those eligible to help fill the missing types by making a donation appointment today. Don’t wait for the letters A, B and O to go missing from hospital shelves again.”

Donors can help fill the missing types by making an appointment to give by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Survey reveals public misconceptions about blood needs and donation

A 2019 national survey, conducted on behalf of the Red Cross, revealed a troubling disconnect between the public’s perception of blood donations and the realities of patient transfusion needs.

A third (33%) of the public has never considered that blood may not be available when a loved one needs it.* Just last month, the Red Cross had only six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but more than twice that is needed every day.

Clothes (69%), money (63%) and food (53%) are the primary ways that the public has donated to help others in the past year.* Only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood.

Blood transfusion is one of the most common hospital procedures in the U.S. Yet, “Never really thought about it” was the primary reason (26%) that people do not give blood among those who haven’t given recently.*

More than half (54%) the public believes it is necessary to know their blood type in order to donate blood—this is simply not true. Potential blood donors do not need to know their blood type before giving blood. After individuals give blood, the Red Cross provides each donor their blood type.

Missing blood products can lead to delays in treatment

Troy Stemen is a 17-year-old with an upbeat attitude and love for sports and gaming. He’s also a survivor of high-risk acute lymphoma leukemia. During his treatment, he received 37 platelet and 10 red blood cell transfusions from generous Red Cross donors.

He and his mother, Veronica Stemen, recall multiple occasions when he had to wait hours for platelets to become available due to shortages. “My mom and I were both pretty concerned that I wasn’t going to get the platelets in time,” Troy Stemen said about one such occasion. “And I became pretty afraid and pretty scared that I might not get better.”

His mom said there was a noticeable difference in her son’s health and energy after getting blood and platelet products. She is grateful to the donors who have helped her son.

“When a child goes through the whole cancer process, you don’t really know what to expect,” said Veronica Stemen. “Looking back now, after all the dust has settled, we realize that if we didn’t have blood or platelets that maybe Troy would not be with us today.”

New donors needed

More donors, and new donors in particular, are needed to maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients like Troy Stemen. Donating blood is a simple process and only takes about an hour from start to finish.

Registration: Sign in, show ID and read required information.

Health check: Answer questions and receive a mini-physical.

Donation: Giving a pint of blood only takes about eight to 10 minutes.

Refreshments: Donors enjoy snacks and relax before resuming their day.

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

National brands lending support

The Red Cross appreciates the support of its lead partners who have joined the #MissingTypes campaign, including: Ace Hardware, Adobe, Amazon, AVANGRID, Boise Paper, CarMax, The Clorox Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Domino’s, Facebook, Google, Herbalife Nutrition, IBM®, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Mall of America®, Nationwide®, OnStar, Oreo, PayPal, Salesforce, State Farm®, Suburban Propane, Sunoco, U.S. Bank, Zaxby’s Franchising LLC and Zebra Technologies Corporation.