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Red Cross Asks Angelenos To Donate Blood Amid ‘Dire Shortage’

A phlebotomist wearing a blue protective gown and mask draws blood from a masked woman's left arm.
Phlebotomist Briana Green draws blood from Maritza Nieves during the new FDA emergency use and authorized IgG ll Antibody Test for vaccinated people, offered free of charge in Santa Fe Springs on April 21, 2021.
(Frederic Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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The pandemic closed many traditional blood drive locations for months, just as the need for blood has increased as more people undergo delayed surgeries and treatments.

“We are in a dire shortage and we have a great need for blood. The nation is facing the lowest blood supply in over a decade,” said Raahima Yazdani, regional communications and development manager with the American Red Cross in L.A. She says most healthy adults can give blood, even former COVID patients.

“If you’ve had COVID and you’ve recovered and you’re no longer required to be quarantined and it’s safe for you to donate, we welcome you to come and give,” she said. “You’ll have to go through the same general screening that we require of every donor.”

Despite the shortage, federal regulations bar some healthy people from giving blood, including men who have sex with men, even if they are in a monogamous relationship. Potential donors are asked about their sexual activity, overall health and whether they have COVID-19 symptoms. Each unit of blood donated in the U.S. is routinely screened for disease pathogens including the coronavirus.

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To make up the deficit, Yazdani says the nationwide goal is 10,000 blood products per week.

“That’s a pretty hefty amount, so we encourage anyone who can spare an hour to donate to save a life,” she said.

Donated blood is separated into three different "blood products" including red cells, platelets and plasma. Each has its own shelf life and is used in different treatments, from cancer care to childbirth.

You can make an appointment to donate blood at an American Red Cross site here, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or 1-800-733-2767.

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Starting Jan. 4, the Red Cross is instituting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all workers at blood donation sites. They were not covered under a previous California health worker vaccine order.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.