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How to Help During the Blood Shortage

Published in For the Health of It Author: Kristi Enerson, Manager, Laboratory Technical Services

Note: This article has been updated to include blood drive events in July.

The United States is currently experiencing a nationwide blood shortage. Earlier this summer, multiple local media stories confirmed that this includes Minnesota.

Currently, there is only a 3-day supply to offer to the region’s hospitals. Here is more information about the causes of the shortages, how people can help and where they can go to donate:

Blood Shortage Details

The current shortage has been caused by multiple factors:

  • Many hospitals that have delayed elective procedures during the COVID-19 have resumed them again, increasing the need for donated blood.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant decrease in the number of blood donors. There are currently 40% fewer blood donors between the ages of 17-24.
  • Additionally, summer is traditionally a time when not as many people donate blood — due to having busier schedules.

How Blood Donation Works

  • Donating blood is easy. Each donation generally takes less than an hour and involves:
    • Registration
    • Taking a health history and answering some questions about your current health
    • Your donation — which usually only takes about 8-10 minutes
    • 10-15 minutes of recovery while you enjoy a snack and a drink
  • It is recommended that you avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for the remainder of the day. But your body replenishes the amount of liquid blood (plasma) in your body within two days of your donation.
  • You may have some bruising and bleeding on your arm at the needle site. If so, you can apply ice.
  • If you feel lightheaded or tired after donating blood, it is recommended that you take it easy, drink liquids and allow your body to heal.
  • In general, you can donate blood if you:
    • Are in good health and feeling well
    • Are at least 17 years old
    • Weigh at least 110 pounds
    • Have not donated in the past two months
  • You can donate if you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, but you’ll need to provide the manufacturer’s name (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.)

Where You Can Donate

Two local organizations that organize blood drives are the Red Cross and Memorial Blood Centers.

In St. Cloud, you can sign up to donate most days at the St. Cloud Blood Donation Center at 1301 West St. Germain in St. Cloud. To learn more go to redcrossblood.org and enter "56303" in the ZIP Code.

Among the upcoming dates where you can donate at mobile blood drives include:

For the latest information on each of these blood drives and to view additional dates, please visit redcrossblood.org and mbc.org