Red Cross, Other Organizations Desperate for Blood Donations

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While the country tries to get COVID-19 under control, it's also facing another medical emergency: a blood shortage.

The Red Cross and other major blood centers across the nation have reported a huge drop in blood donations during the pandemic, since both COVID-19 and natural disasters like wildfires have forced them to cancel blood drives.

Joe Monterastelli of San Jose, a longtime blood donor, said he was surprised to hear just how urgently the Red Cross needs donations right now, especially for his blood type, which is A+.

"A couple of evenings ago, I received a call from a gentleman from the Red Cross who informed me that there was a blood shortage," Monterastelli said. "He informed me that as soon as I donate and the blood is cleared and tested, that it could be going to someone in need within 24 hours, which really just alarmed me."

A spokesperson for the Red Cross said it might take a little longer, saying, "It takes 2-3 days from the time of donation for blood, platelets or plasma to processed, tested and to be made available to hospitals."

The Red Cross is also asking people for a different kind of blood donation. They need people who have been infected but have recovered from COVID-19.

The organization explained that "convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus."

Donors like Monterastelli said the Red Cross followed all COVID-19 safety guidelines when he went to donate blood. He encourages others to roll up their sleeves as well.

“You should feel extremely safe going into an American Red Cross facility," he said. "They are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure both your safety as well as the safety of their workers amidst this time."

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