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Red Cross pleading for blood donations amid 'severe shortage'

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is causing the demand for blood transfusions to rise significantly.

TACOMA, Wash. — The American Red Cross is dealing with a severe blood shortage across the country due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More blood is being used at medical facilities due rise in trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries, which were largely placed on hold because of the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic is also affecting blood supply since many patients deferred care during the height of the pandemic. For some of these patients their conditions have worsened which has increased the need for blood transfusions.

"They are needing greater care. We are seeing an intense increase in that need, and we need to keep up with it as donors across the country," said Betsy Robertson, communication director for the American Red Cross Northwest Region.

Hospitals across the nation are also seeing a higher number of emergency room visits and overdoses, causing a rise in the number of necessary transplants.

The American Red Cross has seen a 10% increase in demand from trauma centers compared to 2019. That's more than five times the growth compared to other facilities providing blood transfusions.

"Every blood donation has the potential to help save three lives. Regardless, whatever type you are please donate, and then again, if you are type O, maybe make an extra push," Robertson said.

The pandemic had an immediate effect on blood donations, causing more than 1,500 Red Cross blood drives to be canceled in the early weeks of March 2020. 

Anyone who can is encouraged to donate blood. Also, organizations can apply to host blood drives to help bring in even more donations.