Red Cross urges blood donations amidst severe shortage

Red Cross urges blood donations amidst severe shortage
Covid-19 is a pandemic that has impacted many parts of the community, and that includes the blood supply. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - COVID-19 is a pandemic that has impacted many parts of the community, and that includes the blood supply.

“We’ve had over 4,000 blood drives canceled across the United States and that resulted in over 100,000 missed blood donations,” said Jonathan McNamara of the American Red Cross. “That affects patients, not only here in the commonwealth, but across the country.”

Cancer patients, trauma victims, surgical patients, mothers who have had complicated pregnancies - just a few of the people who need healthy blood available, and that’s who this shortage threatens.

"When the blood supply is taxed, that's why it's so important for people to join us in this effort to make a blood donation because you never know when you're going to need blood and there is no substitute for a blood donation," McNamara urged.

In the current climate, concerns and fears about the process are certainly prevalent, but McNamara says not to worry. Every precaution is taken to ensure donor safety.

"The blood donation process is safe," he said. "We're taking every measure imaginable with our partners at the CDC and the FDA to ensure that every aspect of our donation process is safe."

That includes the most recent illness to rear its ugly head.

“It’s important to know that there is no history of respiratory illnesses being transferred through the blood. There’s no history of coronavirus also being transmitted through a blood donation,” McNamara said.

With all of that in mind, the Red Cross hopes that many will choose to get out there and make a difference.

“Right now if you’re healthy, you’re feeling good, by joining us you’re going to make a big difference in the lives of patients who can’t take a break from needing that blood,” McNamara said.

Governor Ralph Northam donated blood on Wednesday and urged other Virginians to donate, as well.

The Red Cross is also taking extra precautions during this time period, such as changing gloves often, wiping down donor areas and taking temperatures prior to donations. To find out where you can donate and schedule and appointment, click here.

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