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American Red Cross faces historically low blood supply amid holiday donation slump

The Holiday Hero Donorama hosted by the American Red Cross aims to address the strain put on blood supply by holiday donation slump.
The Holiday Hero Donorama hosted by the American Red Cross aims to address the strain put on blood supply by holiday donation slump.

The American Red Cross says the nation is facing a huge blood shortage.

“We’re at a historically low blood supply level across the country right now, so we are very concerned about that,” Remy Kennedy, account manager at the Red Cross, said.

In order to address the shortage, the Red Cross hosted a Holiday Hero Donorama on Monday and Tuesday where people could come and donate blood.

Kennedy said during the holiday season, the blood donations usually drop. 

“It’s not a priority. There’s a lot of travel, there might be severe weather, so it’s not on people’s minds as much,” Kennedy said.  “So this is just a time to come out, give the gift of life.”

The shortage was further exacerbated by the quad-state tornado that affected parts of western Kentucky in early December, where hundreds were injured, and 77 people died. The Red Cross has tried to help the affected areas.

“The tornado disasters across multiple states, that only added to the need as well,” Kennedy said. “So the Red Cross actually donated an extra 200 blood products to hospitals in need after the tornadoes.”

She also said that the Red Cross has more than 100 volunteers on the ground in affected areas, with an additional 100 volunteering virtually.

Others interested in helping can donate blood or money to the Red Cross.

Kennedy said that red blood cells are the most requested from hospitals.

Phillip Mattingly was giving a so-called “power red” donation where technicians return plasma and platelets to the donor in order to obtain more red blood cells.

“It’s my understanding that it gets two for one,” Mattingly said. “You can give more blood, it’ll go further.” 

Mattingly is afraid of needles but says he gives anyway because it’s worth it to help people, especially during a time of critical need. 

“I hate needles, I just don’t watch,” Mattingly said. “As long as you don’t look, it just feels like a pinch.”

Kennedy said that the turnout for the blood drive was strong.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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