Blood supply is extremely low, Red Cross encourages everyone eligible to donate

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NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood and platelet shortage.

Right now, the blood supply is the lowest it’s been since 2015 for this time of year. Typically, fall is the time the blood supply rebounds after summer vacations end and people settle back into a routine.

As COVID-19 cases spiked in August, the Red Cross reports blood donations took a dive, decreasing by 10%.

Officials told 10 On Your Side they are running low on all blood types, but especially O. That is the most needed because everyone can receive it. Recently, it has been down to less than a half-day supply.

In order to recover, the Red Cross says it needs 10,000 additional donations each week for the next month.

“It’s critical for us to get donations right now just so we can keep our hospitals supplied with that crucial blood,” Executive Director Katie Niehoff said.

Niehoff knows from personal experience how quickly and unexpectedly a person can come into the need for a blood donation. When her son AJ was born 6 years ago, she lost her body’s volume of blood.

“So, from that point on, we’ve made it our family’s mission to spread awareness for the need of blood donors. Because without 14 strangers who rolled up their sleeves for me, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be a family,” she told WAVY.

She never imagined that could happen to her, the same way people don’t expect to be in an accident or receive a medical diagnosis requiring immediate surgery.

That’s why the Red Cross is pleading for donors and reminding the public they are wearing masks and social distancing to make donation drives safe.

You can find blood drives by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or visiting their website or app.

As a thank-you, all who donate through Sept. 30 will receive a football-inspired Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last, and a free haircut coupon from Sport Clips. In October, donors will receive a free Zaxby’s Signature Sandwich or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.

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