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Red Cross blood supply hits six-year low: 'We need you now more than ever'

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 12:02 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 12:12:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The American Red Cross said blood donations are at their lowest levels in six years.

The organization is looking to collect 10,000 additional blood products each week for the next month to keep up with hospital and patient demand.

David Redford of Midlothian knows just how important these blood donations are. Last November, the 50-year-old was admitted to St. Francis for emergency gallbladder surgery, and his world quickly turned upside down.

"After I was in the recovery for a couple hours, my blood pressure was still dangerously low and never came back up," Redford explained. “They knew something was wrong and went back in and found out that I lost about nine units of blood. The human body only holds about ten, so I just about bled out."

Doctors didn’t think Redford would make it, but after multiple transfusions and three-and-a-half weeks in a coma, he woke up.

“If I didn't have those blood transfusions, there was no doubt I wouldn't be here today to tell my story," he noted.

Now, Redford is worried about the dozens of other Central Virginians who could face a need for transfusions, but during a time when there's a severe blood shortage.

“We’ve seen about a 10% reduction in turnout at our blood drives both here in Virginia, but across the country as well," explained Jonathan McNamara, communications director at the Red Cross. "That’s related to the lowest blood supply we’ve had at the Red Cross in six years."

McNamara said the Red Cross typically likes to have five days worth of blood supply on hand.

"What we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks is we may now see less than a day's worth supply in some blood types," he noted.

The organization is facing donor fatigue and people not showing up at drives because of COVID-19 concerns.

"We work with the FDA on a daily basis to make sure our entire process is as safe as possible, and it starts before you even arrive at a drive," McNamara noted.

From masking to social distancing and extra sanitizing, the Red Cross is taking every step to protect those who come out to save a life.

Redford now gets to celebrate his 51st birthday with his family because of 10 people who rolled up their sleeve.

"That's something that only takes 15 to 20 minutes of your time and means a lifetime to someone, especially like me," he explained.

Redford is hosting a blood drive at his work to celebrate his 51st birthday in early November. Meanwhile, the Red Cross is offering incentives to get people to come out to blood drives, like gift cards and free food.

You can find more details and sign up to donate by visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).