CHICAGO (WLS) -- The American Red Cross is sounding an alarm that blood donations are needed. The blood supply is reaching a desperate level in some areas due to a combination of reasons made worse by the pandemic.
"People are going and getting busy again, doing vacations," said Janine Hopkins, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. "At the same time, traumas are on the rise, surgeries are on the rise."
Organizers at an annual blood drive hosted by the Red Cross and State Rep. La Shawn Ford Thursday urged African Americans to consider donating blood, as African Americans are most effected by diseases like sickle cell, which requires blood treatments. And, having donors of the same ethnicity matters.
"African Americans receive more of the blood supply than any other group out here, so we need more Black people to donate," Ford said.
Dr. Gary Stuck at Advocate Aurora Health said more donors are needed to prevent procedures from being delayed or canceled, as is happening in other parts of the country.
"We also are aware that some folks have put off surgeries, transplants, cancer treatments and now they're coming back to the physicians," Stuck said. "So, our hospitals are busier and the need is greater."
Some donors who regularly donate said they are requesting a special designation that their blood help pediatric patients.
"Whenever I come down here, I blue tag my blood and make that it's going to the children at Lurie Children's Hospital or any children's hospital they want to send it to," blood donor Rev. Cherli Montgomery said. "I feel strongly about donating because we are giving life and we are helping someone else."
"Instead of blood being shed on the streets, we need the blood at the donations, and let it be for the lives of the souls who need blood," blood donor Daryl Griffith said.
While blood drives had been cancelled last year, there are more opportunities now to donate as many COVID restrictions have been lifted.
To find a blood drive near you, go to RedCrossBlood.org.