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American Red Cross encourages blood donations amid blood shortage

A man in the middle of giving blood at a blood drive
Emma Feuz
A man giving blood at a drive in Mendon, Utah

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the healthcare system. It has done so in glaring ways such as ICU bed overflows and staff shortages, but also in some less obvious ones. American Red Cross Utah and Nevada Regional CEO Heidi Ruster said COVID-19 has contributed to a blood shortage.

“The amount of blood that we normally have available to provide to hospitals has lessened by at least 10% across the country,” Ruster said.

Part of the problem, Ruster said, is the Red Cross collects 80% of its blood from mobile drives, but the pandemic has changed where people are during the day.

“If a school is closed, or a business is doing all their work remotely, that has created challenges,” Ruster said. We've had to find other locations.”

COVID has also kept donors away, but Ruster said the need for donations is constant.

“We can't stockpile blood,” Ruster said. “It has to be a consistent supply.”

The Red Cross said you can donate blood every 56 days, and when you do, you’ll give a pint. Donors like Terry Anderson said even if you’re nervous around needles or feel like you don’t have the time, donating is worth it.

“Personally it's a good feeling that you're doing something that is helping everybody,” Anderson said.

Anderson has donated a total of 104 pints of blood, but Ruster said any contribution you make can save lives.

“Just the way you feel when you're able to donate blood and know you're potentially saving three lives is so incredibly worth it,” Ruster said.

Ruster said you can visit redcross.org to find a blood drive near you.

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.