The Red Cross is dealing with blood donation shortages at the local level.
“I’ve been here for 22 years, it’s probably the most difficult summer that we’ve had,” Jennifer Shaw, The Red Cross donor recruitment supervisor said. “Even more so than last year believe it or not.”
The non-profit’s Central Oregon chapter has seen a 10% drop in blood donor turnout in the last few weeks alone.
“You could make an appointment to donate blood this afternoon at our Red Cross Blood donation site that is in the Old Mill,” Nadine McCrindle, The Red Cross Central and Eastern Oregon executive director said. “Four months ago, that same appointment, you would have to make two weeks in advance.”
The shortage is likely happening for multiple reasons, including fear of COVID-19.
“Some people may be feeling a little uncomfortable with the delta variant,” McCrindle said. “And are not moving about as much as they usually are.”
McCrindle says some potential donors could also be busy making up for lost time.
“People started to get vaccinated and went off and had the summer they put off,” McCrindle said. “We saw the turnout kind of begin to decline.”
More recently, wildfires can even be to blame.
“We did slow down a lot that week when we were really smoky,” Shaw said.
Company blood drives used to bring in quite the supply, but with many employees still working from home, those collections have been difficult.
“At these drives we’re collecting 14 to 18 units,” Shaw said. “So it is about 10 or 15 units less than normal.”
Less blood donated, means less blood going to those who need it and potential delays in treatment.
“Hospitals are using 12% more blood right now than usual,” Shaw said. “It is very critical, very fragile inventory right now.”
The Red Cross hopes to see more local donations trickle in in the coming weeks, but like many things during this pandemic, nothing is guaranteed.
You can learn more about local blood donations through The Red Cross here.