Red Cross urgently needs donors to help with severe blood shortage

COLUMBIA (WOLO): Blood donations are in dire need in South Carolina and across the nation. The American Red Cross says they’re not anywhere close to having their typical 5 day supply.

“Tough situation right now. We’re in a blood shortage, not one that we’ve seen since March of last year,” said Red Cross South Carolina Communications Director, Ben Williamson. 

Blood donations usually drop in the summer months, but this year, the shortage came early. Williamson says, “people are traveling, kids are out of school, going on vacations. People aren’t in their normal routine so they may not think about giving a blood donation. So we’re gonna see that again, but now on top of it you’ve got COVID which really has created a difficult situation.”

Trauma cases and elective surgeries are on the rise, with more patients in need of blood. Local surgeons Dr. Richard Webb at Lexington Medical Center, and Dr. Chris Watson with Prisma Health say they’re still catching up from delayed surgeries during the pandemic.

“We have certainty seen over the past months a return to normal if not above normal ER traffic as we would say,” said Dr. Webb.

“We have a pretty high volume of elective surgery. Trauma is always busy, but when we hit summer time it gets even busier, and so I think the compound effects of both of those things is what’s causing the shortage like this,” explained Dr. Watson. 

Since 2019 the Red Cross has seen a 10 percent increase in demand from trauma centers. If the shortage continues, doctors fear it could seriously affect the community.

“The blood bank has to have a large stockpile for us and we’re the busiest level 1 trauma center probably in the state and so if we don’t have that blood, people are gonna suffer.”

If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, you can still donate blood. Dr. Webb recommends waiting around 2 weeks after your second dose, depending on which vaccine you received, before giving blood. To schedule an appointment to donate, you can visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

Categories: Local News, State