The Red Cross hopes volunteers will donate blood to overcome the nation’s emergency shortage
With fewer donors than usual at this time of year, the Red Cross is heading into the holiday season with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade. The Red Cross is asking donors of all blood types, especially type O, to give blood or platelets as soon as possible.
Andreina Sosa is the Regional Communications Manager for the Red Cross in Connecticut. She said they always need blood.
“It’s different from other years because we always anticipate low blood donor turnouts but we just have a really low supply right now and that's why we’re in need of blood,” Sosa said.
Sosa said the Red Cross tries to make it as easy as possible to give blood.
“We always have blood drives available in every town in Connecticut,” Sosa said. “It’s very easy to find a time and a place that is convenient for you to donate blood. We encourage people to download the blood donor app since it makes it really easy to schedule your donation.”
There is no blood donation waiting period for those who have received a flu shot or any COVID-19 vaccine or booster, as long as they are symptom-free. Donors are urged to schedule an appointment now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
The pandemic affected the amount of blood drives held at schools and colleges. That caused a 34% drop in new blood donors last year. This was one of the largest year-to-year decreases.
The Red Cross reported that they distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, but when the Delta variant began to spread in August, blood donations stopped.
“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” said Mario Bruno, who’s the CEO of the American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region.
“There’s an increase of certain people scheduling surgeries and procedures that weren’t being scheduled before because of COVID,” said Sosa. “Now, all of that is adding up.”
With holidays right around the corner, Sosa said the best thing someone can do is give the gift of blood.
“We just want people to know that in the anticipation of our holiday season, there’s nothing better than giving the gift of life and what's better than that?” Sosa said. “It’s a great satisfaction to know that you are helping. You can even help save up to three lives with one donation so it's really satisfying to do that. During the holiday season, it’s the best thing we can do…. give.”
In Connecticut, the Red Cross experienced a 30% decrease in new blood donors this year. But Sosa said there are still things people can do even if they can’t donate.
“For those that can't donate, they can always organize blood drives. Or they can always encourage a friend to donate. There's always something we can do,” Sosa said.
In the past months, the Connecticut Red Cross has used incentives like free sandwiches, gift cards and even a trip to Hawaii to get donors to the blood drives. Sosa said they have a promotion happening soon.
“For those who come to give between November 29 and December 16 will be automatically entered for a chance to win a private screening for the film The Matrix Resurrection,” Sosa said. “Also, those who come to give between November 29 and December 16 will get a $10 Amazon gift card by email. A little money and a little entertainment, it’s not bad,” Sosa said.
Blood donations aren't the only thing that the Connecticut Red Cross is struggling with. Since Labor Day, the Red Cross has seen a nearly 50% increase in local home fire responses in Connecticut compared to the same time last year.
“Right now, during the winter months, our home fires increase because we spend more time inside. We’re cooking, we’re using space heaters and all of those are number one, two and three causes of home fires,” Sosa said. “We need more people to help us to bring comfort to people that are experiencing home fires.”
Sosa said everyone needs to come together and help and becoming a volunteer is a great way to do so. The Red Cross will host one-day disaster volunteer training events from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on Saturday, December 4, in New Haven and Sunday, December 5, in Uncasville.
Blood donations are needed now for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
Below is the upcoming blood donation schedule for Fairfield County from November 22 through December 16.
12/10/2021: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Burroughs Community Center, 2470 Fairfield Avenue
12/15/2021: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Burroughs Community Center, 2470 Fairfield Avenue
12/7/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Portuguese Cultural Center, 65 Sand Pit Rd.
11/22/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Easton Public Library, 691 Morehouse Road
12/8/2021: 1:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m., Gaelic American Club, 74 Beach Road
12/13/2021: 11 a.m. - 3:45 p.m., New Fairfield Congregational Church, 20 Gillotti Road
12/10/2021: 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West St.
11/24/2021: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., American Legion, 60 County Road
12/1/2021: 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., St. Philip's Church, 25 France Street
12/1/2021: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Norwalk City Hall, East Avenue
12/6/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., St. Ann's Club, 16 Hendricks Avenue
12/10/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., United Church of Rowayton, 210 Rowayton Ave
12/14/2021: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., St. Philip's Church, 25 France Street
11/23/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Congregational Church - Ridgefield, 103 Main St.
12/2/2021: 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Ridgefield Park & Recreation Center, 195 Danbury Rd.
12/16/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Congregational Church - Ridgefield, 103 Main St.
12/9/2021: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Sports Center Connecticut, 784 River Road
11/22/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., First Presbyterian Church Stamford, 1101 Bedford St
11/24/2021: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Stamford Church of Christ, 1264 High Ridge Road
11/27/2021: 7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, 1527 Bedford Street
12/8/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, 1527 Bedford Street
12/9/2021: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Stamford Church of Christ, 1264 High Ridge Road
12/11/2021: 7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, 1527 Bedford Street
12/15/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Temple Beth El Stamford, 350 Roxbury Road
12/6/2021: 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Insports Centers, 29 Trefoil Drive
12/14/2021: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 406 White Plains Road
12/15/2021: 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Insports Centers, 29 Trefoil Drive
12/11/2021: 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Norfield Church, Norfield Road
12/16/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., VFW, 465 Riverside Avenue