LA Care Health Plan hosted a blood drive Oct. 26 in downtown Los Angeles to respond to a nationwide blood and platelet shortage, which dropped to its lowest post-summer level due to the pandemic, according to the Red Cross.
“Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds from summer blood shortages, but a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. due to the delta variant has contributed to the lowest donor turnout of the year,” the Red Cross said in an Oct. 11 statement.
After state-imposed lockdowns and social distancing restrictions canceled thousands of blood drives across the country, fewer Americans donated blood, affecting millions of lifesaving transfusions, according to the Red Cross.
The nonprofit LA Care Health Plan collected approximately 20 units of blood. Each donation could save three lives in need of red blood cells, platelets, or plasma transfusions.
“At this point, we’re so desperate on collecting blood we kind of just, we just hope for the best,” Tom Schwaninger, senior executive adviser at LA Care Health Plan, told The Epoch Times. “We like to get as much as we can. But we knew it would be tough just because not many people are working in our offices.”
He said that before the pandemic, LA Care Health Plan hosted six blood drives each year and typically collected 25 to 30 donations per event.
The Oct. 26 event was the organization’s ninth drive since the beginning of the pandemic.
“This drive was one of our toughest to get people into,” he said. “People might be concerned because of COVID. But it’s entirely safe to donate.”
Among the 4.5 million Americans, the most impacted needing blood transfusions every year are sickle cell disease or cancer patients requiring chemotherapy treatment.
Nearly 25 percent of the blood supply is used by cancer patients, according to the Red Cross.
Someone in the United States needs a blood or platelet transfusion every two seconds, according to the Red Cross.
Every day, the United States needs 36,000 red blood cell units, 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma. Each red blood cell transfusion is approximately three units.
“To shore up inventory, the Red Cross must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week this month to meet hospital and patient needs,” Red Cross said in a statement.
The Red Cross is asking “donors of all blood types, especially type O, to make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible to ensure patients can receive the lifesaving transfusions they need.”