Youngkin gives blood to raise awareness on donation slowdown

Many people in Richmond and beyond are going on vacation for the first time since the start of the pandemic, leading to significant slowdowns in blood donations.

The American Red Cross is taking steps to keep its blood supply strong during the busy summer months. On Thursday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin attended the Real American Heroes Community Blood Drive in Petersburg to give blood and raise awareness about the need for donations.

In January, blood shortages locally and nationwide resulted in the American Red Cross only having a day’s worth of supplies, the lowest total in more than a decade.

While the Red Cross is not currently experiencing a shortage, the organization is making a push for more donations to maintain Food and Drug Administration blood supply benchmarks and avoid emergency situations.

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“We have to look at the blood supply not just as a Richmond supply, but as a holistic approach for the whole country because we’re a national supplier,” said Jonathan McNamara, Communications Director for the American Red Cross of Virginia.

According to McNamara, many hospitals see increases in trauma cases during the summer, increasing the need for blood during that time.

The summer heat combined with other weather events such as storms can lead to fewer people showing up to give blood, and in some cases, donation drives being canceled.

Donations tend to decrease as fewer drives are held in school and more people travel during the summer months.

High schools and colleges being largely out of session during the summer also takes away a key blood donation base.

“Some of our largest drives are on high school and college campuses,” McNamara said. “Many of those same students who could theoretically donate at home are on vacation, working summer jobs or doing a number of different things that lead to them not signing up for appointments or engaging with the Red Cross.”

The American Red of Cross of Virginia is working with churches, campuses and local businesses to organize donation drives, which can rally their member bases to donate blood in larger numbers.

Donors can register for appointments at The Red Cross has 11 donations centers across the Commonwealth, including three in the Richmond area:

Glen Allen Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center — 4040 Cox Road

Emerywood Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center — 2825 Emerywood Parkway

Arboretum Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center — 9200 Arboretum Parkway, Suite 100

Additionally, several community partners throughout the region host Red Cross-sponsored blood drives. Upcoming drives are taking place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at VCU Health Main Hospital, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Chesterfield Towne Center and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Regency Mall.

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