More than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic started, hospitals and medical facilities throughout the region are still “desperate” for blood supplies for their patients, according to an American Red Cross representative. One way that many people, organizations and venues are committed to helping is by donating blood or hosting frequent blood drive events.
Sean MacMillan, of Salinas, was one of dozens of people who donated blood at an Aug. 9 drive at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Morgan Hill. The church has hosted monthly blood drives since shortly after the pandemic began, and plans to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
These blood drives—as well as many others scheduled throughout Santa Clara Valley and beyond—are coordinated by the American Red Cross.
MacMillan said for a long time he has donated blood as often as he can—about every 56 days, as frequently as health experts advise. He has donated at the Morgan Hill LDS site at least 20 times.
“Because I can, and not enough people do,” MacMillan said when asked why he donates blood. “For a lot of (causes), I don’t like giving dollars. This is something I can give, it takes a little bit of time and it helps others.”
As an added bonus, when he comes to Morgan Hill, MacMillan always visits a local friend and former co-worker who buys lunch when MacMillan is in town.
Ken Dahl, the American Red Cross coordinator for blood drives in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, said the demand for fresh blood has continuously climbed since the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020.
“After two years of Covid, we are being asked by many hospitals in the area for 10% more blood than we were giving pre-Covid,” Dahl said. “So the need for blood is not only constant and always, but right now it’s at a bit of a peak.”
Dahl said all blood types are in demand—“that’s how desperate the supply is at the moment.”
About 60 people signed up for the Aug. 9 blood drive before it started, Dahl said.
In Morgan Hill, the American Red Cross has scheduled another blood drive Aug. 20 at the South Valley Masonic Center, 380 West Dunne Ave. Donors can register beforehand by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.
Blood donors are particularly needed this month to “prevent a blood shortage,” says a press release from the ARC. Only about 3% of the U.S. population gives blood, although 62% of Americans are eligible to do so.
Those who give blood at ARC blood drives in August will be entered to win vehicle fuel for a year and will receive a $10 gift card for a merchant of their choice.
The local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has taken on a significant role in encouraging more blood donations. Four LDS churches in South Valley—located in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister and San Jose—each host monthly blood drives for the American Red Cross, according to Carl Woodland, a Morgan Hill LDS member and volunteer coordinator for blood drives at the four venues.
Before the pandemic, the churches hosted quarterly drives, Woodland explained. They have responded to the increased demand by going monthly. In Morgan Hill, the LDS church hosts drives on the second Tuesday of each month.
Woodland said it’s part of the church’s focus on community and humanitarian service. That focus also includes an ongoing relationship with the ARC for emergency preparedness and volunteer response efforts, among other initiatives.
“We like to have good, positive things that we create out in the community, and a blood drive is one of those,” Woodland said. “When people come to this venue, they come to a nice place where they can give blood, and it’s a service they get to provide.”
Also giving blood Aug. 9 was Morgan Hill resident Luisa Cartier. She only heard about the blood drive hours earlier, when she saw the sign in front of the church when driving by.
Cartier—who has donated blood previously—said she was motivated to give blood shortly after she woke up Aug. 9, when she heard of a recent death and “wanted to do something positive.”
Upcoming blood drives
The American Red Cross will sponsor a blood drive Aug. 20 at the South Valley Masonic Center, 380 West Dunne Ave. in Morgan Hill. Furthermore, the Morgan Hill Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, located at 1790 E. Dunne Ave., hosts monthly blood drives with ARC staff.
For details about upcoming ARC blood drives in the region, and more information about whether you qualify to donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org.