DC-area blood banks experiencing 10-year low in supply

The holidays are a traditionally slow time of year for D.C.-area blood banks. Add COVID-19 into the mix, and you have a critical situation.

The Red Cross said the blood supply is running dangerously low.

“We’re seeing them at their lowest levels in about 10 years,” said Ashley Henyan, the communications director with the American Red Cross of The National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region.

There is a twofold problem at play.

First, the demand for blood is up. During the pandemic, many elective procedures were put on hold.

“But now we see those going back on the books,” Henyan said. “At the same time, we are still in this global pandemic and that means some of our blood drive partners might not be hosting their blood drives. So, we’re finding it a challenge to keep up.”

Add to that the fact that many people who would usually think to donate blood are skipping donations this month — as they are busy with travel, holidays activities and the like — and the blood donation levels have hit a critical low.

Currenlty, some of the area’s hospitals say they have a day or less of blood on hand.

“We want to make sure there’s a healthy supply of blood at hospitals because, if not, it can delay patient care,” Henyan said. “We supply blood to about 50 local hospitals. That means we have to collect about 340 pints a blood every day just in our area just to keep up with hospital demand.”

Henyan is asking anyone who can, to take the time to donate a pint.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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