Blood is in high demand, but Red Cross says donations are slowing down

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Red Cross is once again putting out the call for blood donors.

Donations were up during the pandemic as people wanted to try to help, but that spirit seems to be fading just as elective surgeries are cranking back up and the demand for blood is increasing.

Barry Porter, the CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina, says the slow-down in donations may be due to several factors.

"People feel like they've done their part and they forget that it's an ongoing need," Porter said. "Two, there's confusion around 'Can I donate after a vaccine?' And three, as it gets into summertime, we continue to have blood drives canceled."

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Porter wishes everyone who decided to give blood during the height of the pandemic was like Daniel Federspiel of Raleigh.

"I want to be able to make sure I can give back in one way or another and this is, I feel like, one of the best ways I can do it," Federspiel said.

He got back in the practice of giving blood during the height of the pandemic and is continuing to give.

Unfortunately, according to the Red Cross, many other donors have fallen by the wayside.

The timing is particularly bad because now that vaccinations are underway, elective surgeries are cranking back up and the need for blood is higher now than it was much of last year.

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Federspiel said, "I was giving blood for the timeframes during COVID when people weren't doing it because they were afraid to do it. And then now, with elective surgeries going back in."

But there's concern that the drop in donations is more than people not thinking the demand is still high.

Porter and others fear people may mistakenly think getting vaccinated might disqualify them from donating.

It doesn't.

In fact you can still give blood even if you've had COVID-19 according to Porter who said donors are asking questions like, "Can I give with a vaccine? Can I give post COVID?"

Porter's response, "Best thing is if you're feeling well and you're fully recovered, at least 14 days out from your latest symptoms, you can help save the life of another."

Porter said you can give immediately after receiving the vaccine with one caveat, the Red Cross is required to note which vaccine you got.

If you can't remember, you can return in two weeks and then resume giving blood regularly.
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