VALENCIA, Calif. — As a first-year nurse who often gives blood transfusions to his patients, Tim Hurst has never given blood himself — until now.
He’s been meaning to donate for a while, but it took a global pandemic to finally get him to roll up his sleeves.
What You Need To Know
- Blood supplies often run low during the winter holidays
- This year, the problem is especially bad because of COVID-19
- More than 80% of the blood that the Red Cross collects comes from blood drives
- Not only are there less blood drives, but those that are still happening can’t take in as many people
“As an RN, I know what it’s like for patients to need blood, and I know there is a greater need than ever,” said Hurst.
Blood supplies often run low during the winter holidays. But this year, the problem is especially bad because of COVID-19. More than 80% of the blood the American Red Cross collects comes from blood drives, which haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Candi Jefferson is a team supervisor for the Red Cross who said that, in her 21 years collecting blood, she’s never seen levels quite this low.
"We have had so many blood drives cancelled," she said. "We’ve gotten it down to where it was 1.7-day supply on the shelf. Even during 9/11 it was not like this."
Not only are there less blood drives, but those that are still happening can’t take in as many people. Before the pandemic, Jefferson said she would average about 60 to 80 donors per drive. But during a recent one, she only had 42.
“We have the beds six feet apart,” she said, adding that people’s temperature is taken twice — before you came in and right before giving a donation. "It kind of upsets some people, but it has to be done."
But for those willing to take the time, there is at least one advantage: Every pint is tested for antibodies. If it qualifies for the convalescent plasma treatment program, a nice little benefit for donors is that they can find out for free if they’ve had COVID-19.
For Hurst, it was a chance to see what it feels like on the other side of the needle.
“It’s easy to become busy and even callous,” he said. “I do these things to patients, and it’s good to have these things done to yourself to find out how they feel.”
Click here for more information about donating blood.