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San Diego blood banks sounding alarm on need for blood donations

A surge of elective surgeries and organ transplants that were held off during the pandemic are depleting the U.S. blood supply including in San Diego.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego blood banks are sounding the alarm. There is a nationwide blood shortage that could delay surgeries and cancer therapies in San Diego that were already postponed during the pandemic.

Donors are not taking a holiday. On Monday, donors were donating platelets and blood at the American Red Cross in Kearny Mesa.

“I've been donating blood since I was 16,” said Sara McKee, donor.

Platelet and blood donors like McKee are needed right now especially coming off a holiday when there are more trauma patients treated in area hospitals.

“There is a concern that we have to cancel surgeries to be able to keep emergency rooms open and trauma centers,” said Dr. Ross Herron, MD, Chief Medical Director of the American Red Cross.

Coupled with the holiday, blood banks say the surge of elective surgeries and organ transplants that were held off during the pandemic are depleting the U.S. blood supply and in San Diego.

“I've been in blood banking nearly 30 years and this is one of the worst shortages I've ever seen,” said Herron.

The American Red Cross says in San Diego they currently only have one-day supplies of O+ and O- blood types which are often found in Latino populations. The need for B+ and B- blood is also needed which is often found in African Americans.

It’s a similar case for the San Diego Blood Bank.

“In most blood types, we are at about a two-day supply. Ideally, we like to at least have a seven-day supply on the shelves,” said Claudine Van Gonka, San Diego Blood Bank, Director of Community Relations and Marketing.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

“What we are asking that for our own community to come out now,” said Van Gonka.

Cancer patients rely on donors like McKee who donated platelets. Some cancer therapies were delayed during the pandemic and now there is a demand for platelets.

“I've been donating a long time so I've definitely got the call when they were short before on blood but nothing [like] what it's been like in the last couple of weeks or months,” said McKee.

Blood banks said the shortage is expected to last all summer so they’re trying to get ahead of it by making a plea to current and potential new donors, adding more blood drives and increasing hours.

“It always feels good to donate. [It's] such an easy thing to do and help people,” said McKee.

Donating blood can take about an hour and platelet donations can take two hours. A pint of blood can save up to three lives.

To donate at the San Diego Blood Bank which has eight locations across the county, click here.

The American Red Cross has several donation opportunities coming up:

As a thank-you, all those who to give July 1-6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered hat by mail - while supplies last. And, donors who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email, plus a chance to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value). (Terms and conditions apply; visit rcblood.org/fuel).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through July 15 in San Diego County:

Cardiff by the Sea

7/14/2021: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1444 Lake Drive

Carlsbad

7/3/2021: 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Jersey Mike’s La Costa, 7625 Via Campanile, Suite 122

Chula Vista

7/12/2021: 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Chula Vista Center, 555 Broadway, Suite 138

Encinitas

7/1/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Seacoast Community Church, 1050 Regal Rd

7/7/2021: 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive

7/13/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., San Dieguito United Methodist Church, 170 Calle Magdalena

7/14/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., San Dieguito United Methodist Church, 170 Calle Magdalena

Escondido

7/6/2021: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., DiCicco's Italian Restaurant, 515 W 13th Ave

7/15/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., City of Escondido, 201 N. Broadway

Fallbrook

7/7/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., VFW Post 1924, 1175 Old Stage Rd

7/8/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1620 S Stage Coach Lane

La Jolla

7/6/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Torrey Pines Church, 8320 La Jolla Scenic Dr N

7/13/2021: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Residence Inn, 8901 Gilman Drive

National City

7/11/2021: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Boys and Girls Club, 1430 D Avenue

Oceanside

7/8/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Oceanside First Presbyterian Church, 2001 El Camino Real

7/8/2021: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., Oceanside Masonic Center, 511 Eucalyptus

7/15/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Oceanside First Presbyterian Church, 2001 El Camino Real

Pine Valley

7/13/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., US Border Patrol, 32355 Old Highway 80

Poway

7/1/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Mossy Nissan Poway, 14100 Poway Rd

San Diego

Red Cross Kearny Mesa Blood Donation Center

4229 Ponderosa Ave., Suite C

7/2/2021: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., 4S Ranch Branch Library, 10433 Reserve Drive

7/6/2021: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Civita Park, 7960 Civita Blvd

7/7/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Teamsters 542, 4666 Mission Gorge Place

7/9/2021: 12 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Jersey Mike's, 8726 Lake Murray Blvd, #C1

7/11/2021: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., San Rafael Parish, 17252 Bernardo Center Dr

7/14/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Bernardo Heights Country Club, 16066 Bernardo Heights Pkwy

7/14/2021: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., First Baptist Church of SD, 5055 Governor Drive

7/15/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Country Inn & Suites, 5975 Lusk Blvd

7/15/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Mission Valley Library, 2123 Fenton Parkway

San Marcos

7/10/2021: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1250 Borden Rd

7/12/2021: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Mission Hills Church, 400 Mission Hills Court

Santee

7/6/2021: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., Santee United Methodist Church, 8964 Magnolia Ave

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