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Red Cross in ‘blood crisis’ as Virginia hospitals see dangerously low supply

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The American Red Cross is now sounding the alarm as its blood supply in Virginia hits a new low, calling it a crisis, not just a shortage.

Hospitals are now seeing a half-day supply on average. In context, they usually aim to have a five-day supply on hand.

There has been a historic drop in donations and drives fueling this shortage.

Red Cross spokesperson Christy Carneal says the winter weather resulted in 500 donation opportunities being taken off the schedule. The Omicron surge also led to a large number of blood drive cancellations.

“There have been businesses that maybe scheduled blood drives, and then due to an uptick in the pandemic, they’re going, ‘oh wait, we need to cancel this blood drive,’” Carneal said.

The Red Cross relies on many local universities, schools and businesses to host drives and bring in donations, but the pandemic has sent many of them remote.

“Before the pandemic started, 25% of donors were between that high school and college-age level. That is now at a 10% drop,” Carneal said.

Now, as hospitals fill up and beds become more scarce, the blood supply is becoming dangerously low. Doctors and nurses have let the Red Cross know how bad it is.

“They’ve said that they’ve been put in situations where maybe they’ve had to decide who’s getting the blood for today, and/or if they need to save it for what could come in,” Carneal said. “It also puts them in a position where maybe they have to make a decision that nobody ever wants to have to make.”

If you are someone who cannot donate blood due to a personal or medical reason, you can help out by volunteering to either transport the blood to local hospitals, or lend a hand at blood drives.

The Red Cross cannot host these crucial blood drives without a certain number of volunteers.

If you want to sign up to donate, click here. If you don’t see many slots open now, Carneal says to look ahead to dates three or four weeks from now.

You also may need to expand your search beyond your immediate zip code so that you can view all donation opportunities in the Richmond area.

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