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'The need for blood doesn't stop' | Local church steps up to help Red Cross

Metro Church D.C. may be closed, but early this week it helped the Red Cross facilitate a blood drive amid critical blood shortage.

FAIRFAX, Va. — The American Red Cross needs you, if you are healthy. There is a critical blood shortage and with schools, businesses and other facilities closed, it’s been a challenge finding space and blood donors. That's why one church in Northern Virginia stepped up this week to help.

When Pastor Charlie Dawes of Metro Church in Alexandria and Fairfax learned of the Red Cross’ need to find facilities for blood drives, he didn’t hesitate to help.

"We're just trying to do our part," Pastor Dawes said. 

Dawes' church has been closed to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

"Since we're not able to use our facility for gatherings, it made sense to use our facilities for the community in a great way," Dawes said.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the American Red Cross has struggled to find facilities because many places are closed.

RELATED: Coronavirus closures: Daycares in Maryland to close by Friday night

Lisa Futterman is a spokesperson for the American Red Cross. She tells WUSA9 that thousands of drives have been canceled around the country and she thinks more are on the way.

"We've had 9,000 drives across the country canceled so far, and that number is growing every single day," Futterman said. "(There has been) 250,000 units lost is what the result has been."

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the Red Cross, and that need is not changing. Futterman tells WUSA9 that one donation alone can save up to three lives.

Every donor can make a big difference.

"The need for blood doesn't stop just because of everything around us," Futterman said. "A quarter of our blood supply goes to cancer patients and that's not going to change. We also need blood for surgeries, victims of car accidents and more."

While health officials said there is no evidence that suggest the transmission of COVID-19 through blood, the Red Cross has put protocols in place to make sure donors are healthy.

Futterman said temperature checks are done before people enter the building and again before they have their blood drawn. Beds are also spaced out, each six feet apart.

At Metro Church, 29 units of blood were collected Wednesday, enough to save almost 90 lives. Futterman and Dawes were pleased with the turnout.

"It's just been great to see how people in this area, and the metro D.C. have the desire to work together in the faith community," Dawes said.

If you’d like to donate blood, the process is easy. Make an appointment on the American Red Cross website here, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or download the free Red Cross Blood Donor app.

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, it's safe to donate blood during the coronavirus pandemic

RELATED: US Surgeon General: Blood donations are needed right now

RELATED: Red Cross: Blood supply nearly depleted, donors needed during coronavirus pandemic

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