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COVID-19 shutting down blood drives causing blood shortage nationwide

Coastal Bend Blood Center in critical need
Posted at 6:24 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 19:24:51-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a shortage of many items and products, and unfortunately, it’s also causing a shortage of something that we produce in ourselves — blood.

The Red Cross declared its first ever 'blood crisis' after the pandemic caused a shortage of blood donors, leaving them with the shortest supply they’ve seen in a decade.

Alex Garcia, the executive director for the Coastal Bend chapter of the Red Cross, said they especially noticed a dip in their supply about four months ago. He said instances like the rise in COVID-19 variants and more people going to hospitals for medical attention are leading to a decline in the blood supply.

“If somebody passes on, then you got to have somebody to replace that, or if they’re no longer able to give, then you have to have somebody step up to the plate and do that,” Garcia said.

The Coastal Bend Blood Center in Corpus Christi is also seeing a decline in blood donors. Ashley Ramirez, the public relations specialist for the blood center, said they receive about 30% of their donations from high schools, but that has been on the decline recently.

She said with many people getting sick from COVID-19, people traveling during the holidays and a spike in tragedies around the holiday season, they are at a critical point in their donation process.

“We’re not in a critical state just yet, but because of blood drives already canceling, a decline in donations, we are on that path of getting to that critical state,” Ramirez said.

She said they usually receive about 3,000 donors a month and about 150 a day, but just a few days ago, they only got 50 donations in a day.

“Blood has a certain shelf life, so without our daily intake of about 120 to 150 blood donations daily, we’re not in good shape if we’re not accumulating that,” she said.

James Gourley was one of the donors on Wednesday that was trying to help alleviate the shortage of blood. He said he has friends, acquaintances and family that have had medical conditions like cancer where they needed blood, and that’s what was motivating him to donate.

“It doesn’t hurt and it’s a great feeling to know that you’re helping others,” Gourley said.

Richard Laros has O-negative blood, which the Red Cross said is in demand. He was also at the Coastal Bend Blood Center on Wednesday, and said he had a mother that required blood because of her medical condition. He said he just wants to do his part so that way people aren’t put in a situation where they desperately need the blood.

“I think if you could possibly do it, I think it’s important to try and help people out,” Laros said.