SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Inflation, the economy and crime are what some may have considered the most important problems American’s faced in 2022. However, some might argue that the low blood donor turnout last year should also be considered.

In January 2022, the American Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis due to a severe blood shortage resulting from complications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During that time, hospitals and physicians were forced to make difficult decisions about how to best use the limited supply of donated blood.

Although many people stepped up to the plate, rolled up their sleeves and did their part to help to end the crisis, America faced another crisis as Hurricane Ian reached Florida and moved throughout the Southeast.

Hurricane Ian is considered to be one of the deadliest storms in recent history. (Getty Images)

By September, Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a Category 4 storm and is considered to be one of the deadliest storms in recent history as it killed more than 145 people.

The Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies (AABB) Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism strongly urged eligible individuals in unaffected areas throughout the United States to schedule a blood or platelet donation quickly.

On average, blood collection organizations nationwide had only one to two days worth of blood supply heading into the storm.

After the storm, low blood inventories were exacerbated, particularly in the Southeast region.

For Chatham County, in particular, Red Cross blood donations declined from 2021 to 2022 by over 1,300. Blood drives decreased by hundreds.

“Blood donations are so important because, unlike other medical treatment that can be produced in a laboratory, blood can only come from volunteer blood donors and must be constantly replenished due to its short shelf life,” said Susan Landreth Everitt, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of East Central Georgia.

She continued, “One in seven patients entering the hospital will need a blood transfusion — whether they are accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, or those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. To meet the needs of these patients, the Red Cross must collect approximately 12,500 blood and nearly 3,000 platelet donations every day. 

Everitt said to help prevent blood shortages, the Red Cross encourages those who are eligible to commit to donating on a regular basis.

“Patients are counting on the kindness and generosity of blood donors. We urge you to give blood or platelets to help make a lifesaving difference for those in need.”

For those wanting to be a blood donor, Jessica Clemons, Supervisor of the Savannah American Red Cross said, “They can either download our app to schedule an appointment, or they can just go to redcrossblood.org and schedule an appointment. They can come in as a walk-in, as long as we are open, during our hours. We have local blood drives throughout the community as well.”

For those who have never donated blood, the process is simple.

“For a first-time donor, they read our donation packet, if they haven’t done the rapid pass,” Clemons said. “After they read that, they can go ahead and sign in. They go into a room and do the health history portion of the donation.  If they qualify, then they go to the back room and do their donation.”

“It varies, generally we say give it about 30 minutes for whole blood, about an hour for part red cells and up to two to two and a half hours for platelets,” Clemons said in regard to the length of the process.

She continued, “After you donate you can feel free to get a snack. We recommend that you get a snack, and we have juice and water in the refrigerator.”