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Red Cross aims to double donors to aid blood shortage

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As the American Red Cross issues a severe blood shortage appeal, the Cape Fear chapter is working to double their normal collection numbers.

On average, a blood drive brings in about 30 donors. The American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Area had 60 slots to fill for Wednesday’s event and this morning, they only had about 30 booked.

The drive started at 11 a.m. at Independence Mall. Red Cross Executive Director James Jarvis says donating is critical right now as they’re operating on half a day’s supply of type O blood. Typically, they like to have a five-day supply of all types so they can act fast in a crisis.

“If we were to have a mass casualty event happen here, an active shooter-type situation, we need to make sure we have that blood when those patients need it,” said Jarvis.

Getting in the chair is the hardest part of donating blood — at least, that’s been Sheri Holland’s experience.

“My hardest part is calming down before they check my pulse because you have to pass the criteria,” said Holland. ”So calming down — it’s alright. This is the easy part.”

As a volunteer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Holland knows the importance of donating. She’s reminded every time she sees a patient and thinks of her own family in need of help.

“I think about my grandchildren being on the road,” said Holland. “I think about everybody in my family. I think about my parents.”

That’s why she’s more than happy to donate blood to address the severe shortage. The same goes for Peter Starr, even if he’s a little nervous.

“I don’t like needles, but I also want to help people,” said Starr, the Red Cross’s board chairman.

Much like the pinch of the needle, the nerves pass.

“This is easy. There’s nothing to this,” said Starr. “I think a lot of people assume there must be enough people giving blood that they don’t have to, but that’s not always the case.

Within a few minutes, it’s done and donors are sent on their way with a t-shirt and a snack in hand — and the knowledge that they’ve made a difference.

If you wanted to donate blood today but didn’t get the chance, there’s another opportunity on Friday at the Elks Lodge on Oleander Drive in Wilmington. That event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sign up by visiting www.redcrossblood.org, and using the Sponsor Code - Airlink.

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