As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spike throughout Illinois, the Red Cross is experiencing one of the worst shortages in blood donations that it has seen in years.
Kirby Winn of ImpactLife, a blood donation center based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, commented on the recent drop in blood donors.
“For us, a consistent donation rate of 3,600 donations per week would be optimal. That would put us at about a five to seven-day supply for the 126 hospitals we serve. Over the last month, however, the donation rate has ranged from 2500 to 2800 donations per week,” Winn said.
There are several reasons for this drop.
Kyrrah Randolph, a representative for Redbird Red Cross, suggested the drop mostly stems from people being afraid to donate blood amid the ongoing pandemic.
Winn listed closures on major holidays, such as Christmas and New Year’s, as well as winter storms as reasons why donations might be so low.
Furthermore, people who currently have COVID-19 are ineligible to donate, creating further problems.
However, Randolph also stressed that people who have recently had COVID-19 and finished their quarantine and are now testing negative are highly encouraged to donate blood due to their COVID-19 antibodies.
Although fears about giving blood during a pandemic are understandable by many, Redbird Red Cross is taking measures to ensure a safe experience for all those willing to donate.
Along with a mask requirement for both donors and blood technicians, the organization also utilizes enhanced sanitation techniques to keep everyone safe.
Even in uncertain times, donating blood provides benefits to those in need, especially during blood shortages.
“One donation of blood can save up to three lives,” Randolph said.
Redbird Red Cross has plans for two blood drives open to the public to be hosted on Illinois State University’s campus — one on Thursday and one on Feb. 24. Questions or concerns can be addressed to email@example.com.