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'The surgeon told me the blood bank saved my life'; Virginia Beach man encourages donations during national blood shortage

News 3 teams up with American Red Cross for Labor of Love blood drive
Posted at 2:55 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 17:42:41-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — The American Red Cross says it is experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade.

The dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery, including organ transplants.

Katie Niehoff, the executive director of the Coastal Chapter of the American Red Cross, explained how low the shortage is locally.

“We strive to have a 5-day supply of “O” blood on the shelves, and currently we have a 1-day supply, so there are times when there may be elective surgeries that hospitals may choose not to do because of the blood supply,” Niehoff said.

The Red Cross says the supply is critically low due to ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures and staffing limitations.

Blood donations help people like Hector Palalay who suddenly woke up one day with severe abdominal pain. The father of four said it turns out that he had a partial obstruction and needed emergency surgery to repair his intestine. However, after the initial surgery, something went very wrong. He needed another surgery.

“So when they opened me back up, they found 50% of my blood sitting in my belly," explained Palalay.

Palalay believes doctors and nurses gave him 10-12 units to save his life.

“They used quite a bit of it. They actually had to cancel some surgeries from what I heard, because I became a priority that night.”

Regarding who can donate after having COVID, Niehoff says that as long as someone has been symptom-free for 14 days, they are allowed to donate.

To find a blood drive near you, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or click here and enter your zip code.

One exciting incentive: The American Red Cross and the NFL are partnering this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to invite football fans and blood donors to join our lifesaving team and score big for patients in need.

To thank donors for helping during a time when the Red Cross blood supply is at historically low levels, those who come to give Jan. 1-31, 2022, will automatically be entered to win two tickets to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.