Augusta, GA (WJBF)- The number of people giving blood has decreased drastically during the pandemic causing a nationwide blood shortage.
Shepeard Community Blood Center tells us that because of the pandemic, fewer people are going to the center or scheduling the bus for blood drives–causing a critical shortage.
“And the unfortunate case is that it’s nationwide, it’s not just us. So, while we’re not getting donors that are coming in the door, we’re also not able to call on our friends, other nonprofit blood centers across the US, to help us out,” said Ashley Whitaker, Director of Community Resources at Shepeard Community Blood Center.
She said that surgery and trauma are not the only reasons people need blood transfusions and right now there isn’t nearly enough to go around.
“But what people don’t realize is that our children that are undergoing chemotherapy treatments, they need regular blood and platelet transfusions in order to get their treatment. People who are victims of burns will often need many blood and platelet transfusions. And burn rates do go up around the holiday season,” explained Whitaker. “So, there’s a lot of different reasons why a person would need a blood product, and right now we do not have the products on the shelf. If there was a local emergency, we would not be prepared for that.”
Shepeard gets a lot of its blood donations through blood drives, but those have dramatically decreased too. The pandemic has kept organizations that usually hold blood drives from doing so.
“A lot of our mobile drives have been cancelled, which is why, part of the reason why we’re in the scenario that we’re in. Because local businesses, schools, they’re not in session, they’re not in the office, so they’re not able to have those normal, mobile blood drives,” she said.
Teresa Nelson is a local nurse who says she regularly gives blood.
“Well I know that they do have shortages and as a nurse, I recognize the need for routine donations,” said Nelson.
And Whitaker said it’s still easy to donate during the pandemic.
“I would suggest, give us a call. You can call the Augusta Center and go to our website, shepeardblood.org. Please be patient with us. Because of COVID and because of our trying to be safe, we are…we’ve limited our mobiles in same ways. We do encourage people, if you can, to come to a center,” said Whitaker.
“It’s something that you can do easily. I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt, but the anticipation is usually much worse than the donation. And you’re helping somebody. You’re helping the community,” Nelson explained.
Whitaker said that any healthy adult that weighs over 110 pounds can give blood.
CLICK HERE for more information on donating blood or antibody plasma.