Inside INdiana Business

Red Cross: ‘Severe’ low blood supply amid coronavirus

(photo courtesy of the American Red Cross)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The chief executive officer of the American Red Cross in Indiana says the lack of available blood throughout the state and country is severe. Governor Eric Holcomb last week encouraged healthy Hoosiers to give blood as part of his directives related to the pandemic. However, Chad Priest says numerous blood drive cancellations nationwide due to the coronavirus outbreak are the main cause of the shortage. 

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Priest talked about the issues causing the blood supply to dwindle.

“One is that as businesses and schools are canceling drives, we’re losing drives at a pretty rapid clip,” said Priest. “So far in the United States, we’ve had 4,000 drives canceled just related to COVID-19. To put that into perspective, that’s 100,000 units of lost blood donations, so it’s pretty intense. In Indiana alone, that’s about 150 drives as of late (Wednesday) night for about 4,950 units lost and these cancellations (are) coming in every single day and so we are working very hard to pivot.”

Priest said the Red Cross has two main needs. He says the organization obviously needs people to give blood, but they’re also looking for business owners who have control over a facility to consider making that facility available for a blood drive.

About 3% of Americans donates blood, according to Priest. He says while they haven’t seen a lot of donors who are refraining from donating due to coronavirus fears, that could change quickly.

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“It wouldn’t take much to really create a problem, for example, if people are staying away from drives because of fear or really anything else. Consider if folks have childcare obligations now. They may have increased or different work obligations as a result of the pandemic. And what we’re to do is reinforce that there are a lot of healthy people all over our state that are eligible to give blood and we need them to give blood right now. We’ve got to get this number up if we’re going to see our way through this pandemic together.”

The American Red Cross is holding a blood drive until 4 p.m. Thursday at its downtown Indianapolis headquarters. However, Priest says it can’t just be a “one and done” deal.

“Donors can donate every eight weeks and we’re anticipating a very, very, very long challenge with closures and with donations. So we’re going to need a lot of new, first time donors and then we’re going to need people to plan out and say, ‘Okay if I can’t give this week because of responsibilities or whatever, I give next week. I can give into early April and mid-April.'”

Priest says in addition to blood donors and blood drive sponsors, there are other ways in which citizens can give their support, especially if they’re not healthy. The Red Cross is actively recruiting volunteers for many roles that can be done at home and the organization is always accepting financial donations.

You can find more information from the Red Cross by clicking here.