New Jerseyans urged to donate blood amid nationwide blood shortage crisis
The American Red Cross says it is in the middle of a nationwide blood shortage crisis and is asking the public for help.
“Ideally we have a five-day supply of blood products in the country. We are currently in under one-day supply,” says Kim Goetz, executive director of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey.
Goetz says that this is the first time in over a decade that the blood supply has dipped this low. It is one of the reasons why Jennifer Hellstern, of Monroe Township, showed up to donate. She says the blood shortage hits close to home.
"We have a friend of the family who received transfusions every three weeks and the blood shortage has really impacted her treatments,” Hellstern says.
Unexpected winter weather, staffing shortages, cancellations of drives and a surge in COVID-19 cases were all factors.
“Sixty-two percent of blood is usually collected for our schools and colleges. As you can imagine at this time, with schools going virtual, were having some restrictions on who can enter a building, we are seeing some challenges having blood drives at schools,” says Goetz.
When it comes to the virus and donating blood, the Red Cross says that as long as the person is out of quarantine and feels OK, they are able to donate blood. Vaccination status does not play a factor.
"You come in, there will be someone who does a full health history to make sure that you're well enough to give blood and you meet all of our criteria. We take that guesswork out of for you,” says Goetz.
The whole experience takes less than an hour and can save up to three lives.
As an added incentive, those who donate this month will be entered to win a trip to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
A list of donation sites can be found on the Red Cross’s website.