Blood donors needed now to meet critical shortage

If donating blood is something you’ve thought of doing, the time is now.

This week the American Red Cross issued a plea to help with its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

“Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available,” the organization’s press release reads.

The pandemic, of course, continues to present challenges, forcing the cancellation of blood drives, limiting the availability of staff and resulting to a 10 percent overall decline in the number of donors. In recent weeks, the Red Cross reported that is has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-fourth of hospital blood needs are not being met.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross.

If there was ever a National Blood Donor Month — aka January — to donate blood, this is it.

Statistics reveal that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and about 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions. Cancer patients, burn victims, people suffering from sickle cell and other diseases and those undergoing surgery are all potential recipients.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments. Type O+ is most prized because it can be given to patients of all blood types. But everyone’s contribution can be used to renew someone’s lease on life.

The next local Red Cross-sponsored blood drives with spots available as of press time are

• 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, 3815 Highland Ave., Downers Grove

Visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS for more information or to check for updates and additions to the blood drive schedule.

The nearest year-round locations for Hinsdale residents to donate at time of one’s convenience are both in Westmont: Versiti at 6317 Fairview Ave. (, and Vitalant at 1133 Fairview Ave. (

Try to drink plenty of caffeine-free beverages in the days leading up to the donation and remember to eat a healthy meal (low in fat and high in iron) at least two hours before. And wear a mask. The entire process from registration to post-donation refreshments takes about an hour. And it just might be one of the most consequential hours you spend.

“Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care,” Lasky exhorted.