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The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood shortage

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The American Red Cross has declared an emergency blood shortage.

ERIC GEHRIE: Coming out of the holidays, there was much more need for blood at hospitals than there were donations coming in.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

That's Dr. Eric Gehrie, executive physician director for the Red Cross.

GEHRIE: Every week, the American Red Cross collects about 84,000 blood donations and 21,000 platelets from volunteer blood donors. But we have estimated that in order to shore up the need at hospitals, we would need to collect an extra 8,000 blood donors each week in January.

MARTÍNEZ: Gehrie warns severe winter weather and seasonal illnesses may worsen the shortage, but even small changes in donor turnout can make a big difference.

GEHRIE: When donors give blood, they might be able to save a life of a child with cancer, or a newborn baby, or somebody having a big surgery or an accident victim.

FADEL: He says the number of people donating blood has dropped by about 40% over the last two decades. That's due in part to the pandemic, when lockdowns resulted in fewer blood drives.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, there are a few basic requirements for donating. You got to be at least 16 in most states, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health and feeling well.

GEHRIE: And the best way to donate blood is to register to participate in a blood drive or to go to a donation center.

FADEL: In case you're wondering, Gehrie is walking the talk.

GEHRIE: I am going to donate blood before the end of January.

MARTÍNEZ: Leila, what about you? Plan to give blood?

FADEL: Well, now I am. I didn't know about the shortage. Although, for a long time, I couldn't give blood 'cause I was borderline anemic, so I wasn't allowed.

MARTÍNEZ: Oh. Wow. First time I gave blood, I fainted. I still gave blood, though.

FADEL: You didn't get the juice box?

MARTÍNEZ: No, I didn't. I forgot. And I fainted. I wouldn't have been able to drink it anyway. I was fainted.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOME'S "HOLD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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