Two years into the pandemic, the number of volunteer blood donors in Pennsylvania has dropped dramatically. Blood center leaders say it’s critical to get the numbers up in order to save lives. With schools and workplaces disrupted by COVID-19, many blood drives have been canceled and have not been rescheduled.
Patrick Bradley, president of the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank, said in the last two months, the blood bank had its lowest supply in years, only being able to provide hospitals with about 70% of the units they requested.
He acknowledged donations have rebounded somewhat since then, but added they still need donors.
“If you recall the school shooting out in Detroit a few months ago, we sent blood that day to Michigan blood centers so that they could treat the victims of the shooting,” Bradley recounted. “It’s a very vital part of what we believe we are trying to do, not only in Pennsylvania but for the entire country. ”
Bradley pointed out the Central Pennsylvania bank needs about 75,000 donations per year to serve at least 21 hospitals. The American Red Cross and others have blood-donation centers across the state.
Jeannie Goldstein was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia almost a year ago. While undergoing chemotherapy, Goldstein received more than 30 blood transfusions. She is now in remission and is grateful to the blood bank and donors. She said plenty of other people like her can greatly benefit from blood donations.
“And then the everyday accidents and surgeries that go on,” Goldstein added. “It is a need just as the air we breathe and the bread and milk you need to get during a snowstorm. We need people. We need you. It is right there, an arm away.”
People who are in good health, 16 years of age or older and weigh at least 120 pounds can donate blood every eight weeks. The type of blood most frequently requested is type O because it can be transfused to a patient with any blood type in an emergency.