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Local blood collection center is in need of more donors

Sharryse Piggott
Allie Van Dyke speaks at a press conference at The Blood Connection.

While The Blood Connection says it has a stable blood supply right now, they say they are still in need of donors in case there are traumatic events.

Health officials and blood donation centers in the Triangle area are asking more people to donate blood due to ongoing donor shortages.

Dr. George Clarke, the director of WakeMed Pathology Laboratories, said blood donations are needed at any time, and it's really something that touches many different patients and all different ages.

“I can't think of any more important life saving measure than to be able to transfuse a mom of a newborn baby,” he said. “Some cancer patients will receive chemotherapies and some of those can cause the bone marrow to shut down, so the patient can no longer make their own blood.”

Allie Van Dyke is the Strategic Partnerships and Programs manager with The Blood Connection, a blood collection center that provides blood to hospital systems, like WakeMed and UNC Health. She said issues that impact people from donating include prolonged recovery time due to illnesses, like COVID-19, and age.

Sharryse Piggott
The chair that blood donors sit on while giving their blood.

“So, anytime we see an uptick in other illnesses like COVID, which we're all very used to now, it is concerning because we don't have enough people donating blood as it is,” she said during a press conference Thursday. “So, to have the ones that are, get sick and miss one donation, two donations or however many that is, it's a problem because it doesn't seem like there's people behind them, filling those chairs.”

On top of that, 62% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but only about 3% actually does and the percentage of young donors between the ages of 16 and 24 decreased by double digits, Van Dyke said.

The low turnout of donors still hasn’t increased in two years. According to Van Dyke, 2021 was the worst year in The Blood Connection’s 60-year history for donor turnout.

Van Dyke said if more people donate, the problem can be fixed.

“One blood donation can save three lives,” she said.

Sharryse Piggott is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow.
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