HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — For the past several months, officials have asked the public to roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, they’re still asking you to brave the needle, but to give blood instead of taking a shot.
On Monday, Hagerstown Community College hosted a blood drive as a first step towards ending the severe shortage being felt across the nation. As Americans get back out and go on vacations after a year of staying home, not only are there more accidents requiring blood transfusions, but there are also fewer people around to donate.
“Red Cross and local hospitals prefer to have several days’ blood supply on hand, and some days during this shortage, it’s down to less than half a day’s supply available,” said Eric Anderson, executive director of American Red Cross of the Greater Shenandoah Valley.
A single surgery or trauma can use dozens of units of blood, so the American Red Cross is looking to receive 1,000 more donations per day than usual.
“For somebody who’s been waiting on an elective surgery — maybe it’s not life-threatening, but it’s very important — not having the blood available means that surgery might have to be postponed until there’s blood on hand,” said Anderson.
Type O blood is high in demand, as it can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type in emergency situations. If you’ve already decided to donate, always take care of yourself before hitting the road.
“Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, make sure you’re not going into a blood drive hungry, thirsty,” said Anderson. For those who have issues with their iron levels, the American Red Cross provides a list of iron-rich foods to load up on before your appointment.
People who donate between July 7 and July 31 will automatically receive a $10 Amazon gift card and will be entered for a chance to win free gas for a year. Always book an appointment before you show up to donate to avoid long waits or being turned away due to lack of staff. You can book an appointment online or through text by messaging “BLOODAPP” to 90999 to download the Red Cross donor app. The app also contains other information on blood donation.
Most people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate, but American Red Cross needs to know the name of the vaccine manufacturer that created the shot to determine if the recipient can still give blood.