Northam, Youngkin give blood as American Red Cross donations reach 10-year low

RICHMOND, Va. – While there is a surplus of cheer everywhere you go this holiday season, the American Red Cross is dealing with a serious blood donation deficit.

Jackie Grant, Executive Director of the Roanoke office of the American Red Cross, calls the current supply “dangerously low,” more than they’ve seen in the last ten years.

Some hospitals across the country fear those needing blood transfusions may face delays in care.

The American Red Cross typically needs a five-day supply on hand but has half a day supply most days. Only 38% of the population is eligible to donate, but less than 3% actually do.

The tornadic disaster in the Midwest coupled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and other health-related complications is running supply low.

“We have the impact of COVID-19 still showing in blood donations. We have in-person learning. We have the holiday season. We also have people going back to work, so people aren’t thinking about giving blood right now,” said Grant. “A lot of our drives used to be at colleges and businesses. Many of those are not operating in person or they don’t want an organization in with a lot of people.”

Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam and Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin donated blood in Richmond.

“If anybody is out there and come in to donate blood, we would certainly ask them to do that,” said Northam. He spoke with the Kentucky Governor prior to donating about their need.

Governor-elect Youngkin said a team is traveling to Kentucky from Virginia to assist in their relief efforts.

“This is a time we’re thinking about giving gifts and the gift of donating blood is the best gift,” said Youngkin. “We need volunteers as well. There is a crisis with volunteer levels.”

Limited volunteers are also limiting the number of drives in some places as well. Busy holiday schedules, breaks from school and winter weather all contribute to a drop in blood donations this time of year. Those factors combine with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.

“What we can encourage people to do right now if you are feeling healthy is go online to [and] find a drive near you. There could be one just down the street from you,” stated Grant. “Make a donation. Give the gift of life.”

Click here for more information on the American Red Cross.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.