Critical blood shortage prompts urgent call for donations

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The American Red Cross says there’s an urgent need for blood donations from all blood types as it faces a critical shortage of blood.

The Red Cross tries to have more than five days worth of supply on hand at all times to be able to meet the need for blood, but right now, the supply is below that. “The reality is sometimes it’s down to a two or three day supply which is a very scary spot to be in,” said Shawn O’Hargan, Regional Market Manager for the NY-Penn Blood Services. “We know we have these hospital patients counting on us.”

That’s why the Red Cross is counting on you to donate now.

MORE | Click here to learn about the donation process and to make an appointment. (Walk ins are also welcome.)

One in three people will need blood in their lifetime, and there is no synthetic substitute for it, but this time of year, it can be really hard to get donors to come in. “A lot of people are getting their kids ready for school, they’re finishing up the last of their vacations, so it’s kind of slow,” said Pam Sarvady, a phlebotomist 2 donor specialist at the Red Cross’ Blood Donation Center on Union Road in Cheektowaga. “And we don’t do high schools or colleges during the summer, so we rely so heavily on the community.”

American Red Cross reps say 14,000 people a day need to donate across the country to keep the supply at a good level.

MORE | Click here to see a list of upcoming donation opportunities around the area.

Each appointment takes about an hour, but the Red Cross is offering a way to save a little time with that.

Donors can take part in the RapidPass program, answering the health history questions on a computer at home or at your office earlier in the day. You can print off your RapidPass sheet or email it to yourself to allow the phlebotomist to scan it off your phone.

MORE | Click here for details on the RapidPass option

The American Red Cross also offers a mobile app that can also make donating easier, helping you make donation appointments, and keeping track of your donation history.

One donor at the Donation Center in Cheektowaga Friday has an exceptionally long donation history. Over the last 61 years, Gregory Wildridge has donated more than 25 gallons of blood. “It doesn’t hurt,” he said, “and it does some good.”

Each pint of whole blood donated can help save three lives.

News 4’s Katie Alexander donated blood live on air during Wake Up Friday morning. Watch the video to see it again. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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