Tri-County Area Needs Blood Donors Amid Shortage

By Emily Scott, Public News Service
For The Posts

PHILADELPHIA PA – 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 donation numbers up to save lives. With schools and workplaces disrupted by COVID-19, many blood drives have been canceled and have not been rescheduled.

Overall blood donation levels have declined by 10 percent since March 2020, according to the Southeastern Pennsylvania regional headquarters of the American Red Cross, which covers Montgomery and Chester counties. It and other Red Cross suppliers, which account for 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, have “had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals as a result of the shortage,” it said.

Hospitals across the counties and region may not receive 25 percent of the blood products they request, information from its website indicates. Because blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled, those requests are entirely dependent on “the kindness of volunteer donors,” it added.

Similar problems exist elsewhere in the state.

  • The independently operated Miller-Keystone Blood Center in Bethlehem PA, which serves 28 regional hospitals and in part covers Reading and the Berks County area, during January 2022 endured a “less than a one-day supply of blood on our shelves,” Director of Communications Marie Clemens said. Her concern? “One accident or trauma could deplete our entire inventory,” Clemens observed.
  • During the past two months, the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank dealt with its lowest supply in years, its President Patrick Bradley said. It needs about 75,000 donations per year to serve at least 21 hospitals. It’s getting far fewer.

Blood donation beneficiaries say they are grateful for those donors who have stepped up to help relieve the shortages.

Jeannie Goldstein, a Central blood bank recipient, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia almost a year ago. While undergoing chemotherapy, Goldstein received more than 30 blood transfusions. She’s now in remission, and acknowledges plenty of other people like her can reclaim their lives thanks to blood donations.

“It is a need just as the air we breathe and the bread and milk you need to get during a snowstorm,” Goldstein added. “We need people. We need you. It is right there, an arm away.”

Help meet the need

Blood drives conducted for the American Red Cross are scheduled for Feb. 22-23 (Tuesday and Wednesday) at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Feb. 25 (Friday) at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, March 4 (Friday) at St. Gabriel’s Church in Stowe, and March 7 (Monday) at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Pottstown. Donor appointments for those and other locations are being accepted online, here.

Blood drives conducted for Miller-Keystone are scheduled for Feb. 12 (Saturday) at St. Joseph’s Hill Lutheran Church in Boyertown, Feb. 14 (Monday) at the Boyertown Community Library, Feb. 15 (Tuesday) at Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro, and March 7 (Monday) at the New Hanover United Methodist Church in Gilbertsville. Make online donor appointments for those and other sites, here.

This event has been added to The Posts’ calendar.

Upcoming Central Pennsylvania blood drives can be found here.

Editor’s Note: Reporting for this story was supplemented by The Posts.

Photo via Adobe Stock, provided by Public News Service under license and used with permission