RICHMOND, Va. — The American Red Cross declared its first ever nationwide blood shortage this week. That means a dire situation for patients everywhere — including here in Virginia.
Red Cross Spokesperson Jonathan McNamara said with less than a one-day supply of select blood types on hand, some hospitals are having to decide who gets these life-saving transfusions and who has to wait.
This can mean putting off elective surgeries like a knee transplant, leaving some to deal with their ongoing pain even longer.
"We've also seen many patients, and patient advocates and family members turning to social media to share their experience about what impact this low blood supply on has had on their family members. So this is real," said McNamara. "There are real patients in every one of our hospitals here on in the Richmond area, who were scared — just to be very candid about what this crisis means to them what this means to their families."
One of the main donation sources for the Red Cross are high school and college blood drives, which aren’t happening during the pandemic. McNamara said they’ve seen about a 10% reduction overall in donors.
The Red Cross is encouraging people to not just search for blood drives online within the next 48 hours to 72 hours, but also to continue to look for blood drives over the weeks to come.
McNamara also said there are a lot of people concerned about potential COVID exposures if they come out to donate, but he wants people to know they are taking every step they can to reduce the spread of COVID at their drives and to keep donors safe.