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Red Cross working to avoid summer donation slump

Officials with the Red Cross of South Carolina say a Charleston woman's $1 million donation...
Officials with the Red Cross of South Carolina say a Charleston woman's $1 million donation will go toward helping victims of house fires and conducting blood drives.(Live 5/File)
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Red Cross is urging the community to donate blood if they are able to. The organization is concerned that getting back to normal life may impact blood donations.

“As the nation transitions to a new, hopeful phase of this devastating pandemic and people begin to return to some of their favorite activities, the Red Cross is concerned about the impact this could have on blood donor turnout and the blood supply this summer,” the organization explained in a press release. “The need for lifesaving blood transfusions never takes a break. It’s critical to have blood ready to go when every second counts.”

Johnathan McNamara of the American Red Cross Virginia Region says the summer can bring lower numbers to blood drives. For example, blood drives with 35 appointments are missing their goal.

“We are starting to see 20 and into the teens for appointments here in the Richmond area, and that is concerning,” said McNamara.

The hope is that dozens of drives planned for Central Virginia over the next month will help prevent what they call a “summer donation slump.”

“Every blood type is needed, there are patients with rare conditions, patients that need specific blood types, specific markers,” said McNamara.

Donated blood is also tested for COVID 19 antibodies. The Red Cross says plasma from blood and platelet donations that test positive for high levels of antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to help COVID-19 patients.

“That is what this is about, there is a patient, likely in an ICU, here in Virginia that doctors and nurses tell us could benefit from convalescent plasma products. At the Red Cross, it is our job to screen, test and deliver that blood product,” he said.

People with all blood types are urged to schedule an appointment to give blood, and in most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. Appointments can be made by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

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