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The American Red Cross experiencing severe blood shortage

If you’ve contracted the coronavirus in the past, you’re still able to donate blood.

WASHINGTON — The American Red Cross is in dire need of donations. When the coronavirus pandemic began, the nation saw a decline in blood donations. There was also a decline in elective surgeries and procedures over the last year.

With pandemic restrictions easing across the DMV and life returning to some sense of normalcy for many, the blood shortage is more evident and is at an all-time low.

“Over the last three months, we've distributed 75,000 more blood products than we ever had before and that same timeframe. So, it just kind of shows that the need is a little bit greater than it usually is in the summer. One donation can save three lives,” Lisa Futterman with the American Red Cross said.

The summer months are when the need for donations rises. Futterman said more traumas occurring can be attributed to the demand.

“There's a little bit rise in trauma situations as life opens back up again,” Futterman added.

The pandemic put a pause on certain surgeries. Many people were forced to delay those procedures while hospitals were flooded with coronavirus patients. This year, they’re seeing record low numbers of donations, and there are specific blood types that can help with the shortage.

“We need anyone that is able to give blood, feeling healthy and well to do so, especially O positive, which is the most transfused blood type. O negative is the universal blood type, and then platelets as well, those are important for people fighting cancer and have a short shelf life,” Futterman said.

Eligibility requirements to donate blood have not changed. You must be at least 16-years-old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health. If you’ve contracted the coronavirus in the past, you’re still able to donate blood.

“COVID cannot be passed through blood donations. If you are vaccinated, you can still come [to] donate blood, we just ask that you provide the manufacturer, but it is totally safe for you to come [to] donate blood. If you've been vaccinated or not, we just ask that you wear a mask if you are not vaccinated,” Futterman said.

There are several ways a person can donate blood. Mobile sites are located in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

“We have a Red Cross mobile blood donor app which is free, and you can use your zip code to find drives in your area. You can also call 1-800- Red-Cross or RedCrossBlood.org,” Futterman added.

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