American Red Cross Seeing Blood Donor Shortage

By Mallory Lane

Published 11/20 2013 06:36PM

Updated 11/20 2013 07:03PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - A big blood challenge in our region is experiencing a big shortage of donors.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. On average, the American Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day.

This helps meet the needs of patients at about 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.

But when it comes to the holiday season, the Red Cross typically sees a shortage in donors. This year is no different and it's starting to take a toll on a local blood drive.

The Penn State versus Michigan State blood drive is held every year right before the holidays but this year, the Red Cross is shocked at how far behind Penn State is in the challenge and how so few people seem to be eager to donate.

It's not always easy to give up something you want or need, but Wednesday, Phil Kennedy thought, why not?

"I say give it a shot," Kennedy said. "I mean, what's there to lose besides a little blood?"

Kennedy is donating his blood to the American Red Cross. Sure, he may be losing about a pint of blood, but he knows it's important to do.

"Somebody else is going to be on the other end of the table receiving whatever amount you're going to give," he said.

This holiday season, Kennedy seems to be in the minority.

"Usually, at this point, we have a lot of people coming in, waiting," Wendi Keeler, Donor Recruitment Representative for the American Red Cross, said. "As you can see, we have nobody. There's nobody here."

Keeler can't believe it.

"I feel like this year, the Penn State community has been a little apathetic," she said.

At last count Wednesday morning, less than 1,100 people have donated blood for the PSU vs. MSU Blood Drive Challenge.

"We probably need 200-250 walk-ins and Thursday, we probably need about 300 people just walking into our blood drive," Keeler said.

And that's just to catch up with Michigan, who has nearly 1,300 pints of blood donated so far.

Keeler's not confident those numbers will happen and says besides losing to Michigan State, a lot of people in need of blood will be losing out this holiday season if people don't donate.

"Traditionally, this is a time when people are just busy with other things and they may not donate as regularly as they normally would," she said. "This just helps to get us over those holiday periods."

"It's not hard at all," Rachel Kovach said. "I've only been here for about 20 minutes. It's easy. It hurts a little when they put the needle in, but it's nothing compared to saving someone's life."

So follow Kovach's lead.

"I would say come do it," she said. "You're saving another person's life and it's obviously worth a couple minutes of pain."

The last day of the PSU vs. MSU Blood Drive Challenge is Thursday. To donate, visit Alumni Hall in the HUB building on Penn State's University Park campus. The drive will run from 9 A.M. until 9 P.M. Thursday.

To learn more on how and where you can donate for the Red Cross's "Give Something That Means Something" campaign, visit the American Red Cross website. The campaign runs through January 6, 2014.

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