When the helpers need helping

Blood donations are down and need on the rise


The American Redcross of Illinois

Sara Mullen, Assistant Editor

The American Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations. As a result of the Covid-19 spike in September, donations are down 10 percent during a time when supplies are usually low from the summer season.

Drew Brown, regional communications manager for the American Red Cross of Illinois, said the organization needs “at least 10,000 additional blood products each week” during October to get caught up.

There are several reasons why supply is low. One is the difficulty in coordinating blood drives during pandemic lockdowns. Brown explained that after the lockdowns ended, schools and other businesses started to open, and people didn’t have the time for making donations anymore.

Ironically, just as businesses and schools are finally opening completely, people will be getting out more, creating opportunities for accidents that may require treatments that include blood products. Aditinally, as hospitals begin to recover from the overwhelming numbers of pandemic patients, they will begin to open up for more elective procedures, many of which will require blood.

Charles Beadle, president of the Litchfield branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said they “had not held their annual drive since before the pandemic in 2019. In 2020, when the drive would have usually taken place, the church was not even meeting for regular service. We’re just starting to get back to our regular duties.”

Beadle said that they plan to hold another drive this Spring if they can get enough support.

However, Beadle said: “Covid has changed everything. People don’t do the things they used to do. We still haven’t gotten back to normal. Covid protocols cause people to second guess what used to be second nature.”

Long-time donor Jenny Young from Hillsboro agreed.

Young explained: “I’m older. If I get Covid, it may do me in. It seems silly to put my own life at risk to save someone else. It’s time for the younger people to step up.”

Brown said everyone is needed and that “safety is of the utmost importance to the staff and volunteers at the Red Cross.”

Brown also mentioned that donors aren’t the only help needed. Volunteers are needed for what she called “blood drive ambassadors.” The ambassadors are there to greet donors with a smile and check them in. They also hand out juice and snacks to the donors. The youth are perfect for this because of their usual cheerful enthusiasm, Brown said.

Brown explained that now is the perfect time to volunteer and donate. With the holidays coming up and with the current shortage, there is no better time.

“Every two seconds, someone needs blood,” Brown said.

Young said: “It feels really good to know you are helping others. You may even be saving someone’s life.”

Beadle agreed: “With all the feelings of helplessness we’ve experienced through the pandemic, it’s nice to know that there is a positive action we can take to do something worthwhile.”

If anyone is interested in donating blood, hosting a blood drive, or volunteering as a blood drive ambassador, they are encouraged to go to Redcrossblood.org, and you will be prompted on what to do and where to go.