The local Shepeard Community Blood Center has been dealing with a nationwide blood shortage since COVID-19 cases first started appearing in March 2020. Major shortages occurred in spring 2021, and again in January amid the omicron surge.
Although Shepeard is no longer in critical appeal, they remain in urgent need for all blood types — especially as summer approaches.
“As we head into the summer months, we are anticipating a blood shortage,” said Ashley Whitaker, director of community resources at Shepeard. “This happens to some extent every year as people are traveling, the needs at hospitals often increase due to elective surgeries and car accidents, and schools are out. So it’s very important that people come out to donate now and during the summer.”
A person can donate blood every 56 days, or every eight weeks. Therefore, if timing aligns, a donor could donate up to six times a year.
“I always tell donors that if they can commit to donating at least three times a year, blood shortages would go away,” said Whitaker.
Right now, the center is in urgent need of O blood types, including O positive and O negative. O negative blood donors are rare, and are the universal donor. To incentivize donation, for the rest of 2022, donors at Augusta University blood drives will receive a $20 Amazon gift card.