More donors needed in midst of "severe shortage" of blood supplies

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Blood centers are asking for the public's help in addressing a shortage of blood supplies.

"Typically, the American Red Cross is likely to have about 75,000 blood donations on the shelf to rotate that inventory every day when a hospital calls us across the nation. We've been seeing that inventory about two-thirds its normal daily limit," said Barry Porter, Regional CEO of American Red Cross.

While donations do typically dip in the summer, Porter noted unique challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Because of delayed hospital treatments, we're hearing hospitals tell us that more and more patients are coming in. And from those delayed surgeries and activities are now coming in for their treatments and requiring blood," said Porter.

The national organization says demand for red cells are up 10% compared to 2019, and Type-O blood and platelets are also high-priority, though Porter stressed due to the demand across the board, all donations are needed.

"Every two seconds in America, someone gets a blood transfusion," Porter said.

Hearing of the situation, Calvin Nelson decided to donate blood for the first time.

"It was awesome. I mean I was a little nervous coming into it because I had never donated any blood before, and that's why I had never donated blood before, but it was super easy," said Nelson, who is also an intern with American Red Cross.

Porter said walk-ins are welcome, though scheduling appointments is preferred. He added they are looking to add both paid staff and volunteers.

Donors at American Red Cross receive a $10 Amazon gift card and are eligible to win free gas for a year.

Duke Health tells ABC 11 their blood supplies have improved thanks to a strong community response, while UNC Health is closely monitoring levels though have not had to delay or cancel any procedures. The Blood Connection hosts "Mobile Mondays" outside the Patient Tower entrance at UNC Rex Hospital, offering $20 gift cards and t-shirts for every donor.

WakeMed added they have maintained blood supply while adding there is a need for donations. A WakeMed spokesperson shared the following statement on behalf of Dr. Ryan Johnson, medical director of Infusion Services:

Although we give our best efforts every day at WakeMed to utilize the blood (The Blood Connection) supplies us as efficiently as possible to provide outstanding and compassionate care to our community, blood is a limited resource, and we depend on the community to help us. A single donation can help save the lives of up to three people in the community, whether they may be acutely or chronically ill, require a life-saving surgical procedure, or may be involved in an accident and need rapid resuscitation.
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