Hospital and patient demand for blood is increasing to above pre-pandemic levels.

NEW YORK – New York Blood Center (NYBC) is issuing an urgent call for healthy blood donors. The need for blood has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, but supply is still lagging behind. Memorial Day usually marks the start of a difficult season for the blood supply as people head off on vacation and fewer people make time to donate. This year will be even harder because of the pandemic.

As restrictions lessen or end entirely, blood donors are still not donating at pre-pandemic rates; however, hospital and patient blood needs have rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels. There are 100,000 blood donors who still have not returned to donate since before the pandemic and there are still hundreds fewer blood drives hosted each month.

A year of no high school and college blood drives has also created a gap in first-time donors.  Therefore we are asking our same donors over and over to give more. We need our lapsed COVID-19 donors to know that it is safe to come back! And we need more organizations to step up to host blood drives.

“In a normal year, maintaining an adequate blood supply can be challenging during the summer. This year, folks can finally start enjoying some travel, family and friends, so we’re preparing for things to be even more difficult. The blood supply is a critical part of our healthcare system. It is imperative for healthy individuals to come in and donate blood so that it’s available to those in need,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Executive Director Recruitment and Marketing. “At this unprecedented time, this is one thing you can do to help someone who desperately needs it. We have extended hours at our donor centers and we’re encouraging donors to schedule an appointment to visit one of these controlled, safe environments.”

Donating blood is safe and it only takes one hour. We are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. NYBC staff are also practicing health self-assessments prior to presenting at work. As always, people are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. Additional information on donor eligibility and COVID-19 precautions is available here.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently revised several guidelines regarding donor eligibility, including shortening the deferral period for men who have sex with men from twelve months to three. NYBC has advocated for these changes for decades and expects to welcome these newly eligible donors at the beginning of June. More information is available here.

Donors can schedule appointments by calling 1-800-933-2566 or visiting