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Blood donations are at a severe shortage nationwide

“What we’re not expecting is the influx of folks needing blood so immediate. The blood just isn’t there on the shelves,” said Sherri McKinney.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We are now at the stage of the pandemic where things are picking back up. 

What hasn't caught on to the return of normalcy is blood drive donations. 

“Nationwide, there is a shortage,” said Sherri McKinney, American Red Cross Communications Regional Director. 

In fact, it is what the American Red Cross describes as a severe shortage. 

McKinney said last summer's shortage doesn't even compare. 

“This is considered much more severe than what we saw last summer at this same time. Fortunately, people came out during the pandemic so easily because they just wanted to be able to do something and do something good for each other,” said McKinney. 

It is a different situation this year.  

“A lot of people during the pandemic stayed at home. They rescheduled surgeries. They put off getting things done that they should have had done health-wise. Those are all being rescheduled now,” said McKinney. 

That is driving blood demand up across the nation.  

“Plus, we’re seeing more people travel this summer. That’s causing some of the trauma surgeries that are on the up with that. They need blood as well,” said McKinney.

At Vitalant, they are facing less than a four-day supply needed at any given moment.

In June, they reached a four-month high of business-hosted blood drive cancellations. That is more than 6,000 donations missed.  

“Since 2019, we have seen the demand for blood products grow 10-percent to what we’re seeing here in 2021. That’s about five times the growth of what other facilities who provide blood transfusions are seeing lately,” said McKinney. 

Normally, a dip in summer donations is expected.  

“What we’re not expecting is the influx of folks needing blood so immediate. The blood just isn’t there on the shelves,” said McKinney.

That is where you come in, the public. 

Organizations need more people to donate and help save lives.  

“The gift of blood means life. It means everything to a family who may have someone in need of blood that’s been donated,” said McKinney. 

This Saturday, Vitalant is hosting a donor fest at Overton Square from 11am to 5pm.