Delta County blood drive helps nationwide blood shortage

The American Red Cross of Wisconsin holds the Escanaba blood drive every nine weeks.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - A nationwide blood shortage has the American Red Cross asking everyone who’s eligible to donate blood, and there is a need for all types.

Delta County residents are doing their part at a two-day blood drive at Wellspring Community Church in Escanaba.

“There’s a need for it,” Tracy Oefelein said. “Everybody needs to be helped once in a while. I’m O-positive, so I am able to help, I think it’s about 80% of the people that I donate for.”

Oefelein said she started donating blood after Sept. 11. She donates every time she’s eligible, which for whole blood, the most “flexible type of donation” according to the Red Cross, is every 56 days.

American Red Cross of Wisconsin holds the Escanaba blood drive every nine weeks. Organizers said right now, having people donate blood is more important than ever.

“We are in a pretty big shortage,” said Trent Paider, Red Cross team lead phlebotomist. “Since August, we’re down 25%. So, what’s happening is that our hospitals are taking more blood than we’re giving, or that we’re donating.”

Paider said, having donors like Oefelein, who donate on a regular basis, helps during shortages.

“Having that consistent basis, where you have plenty of people that you make good connections with, you’re going to have plenty of donations and plenty of units to go around,” Oefelein said.

Volunteers from Delta County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) help make the regular blood drive at Wellspring Church possible.

“Just by our volunteers being here, it frees up the Red Cross staff,” said Lori Guiliani, RSVP director. “So, they don’t have to do the registration. They don’t have to watch the canteen area. They don’t have to call and schedule the appointments.”

There’s still space on tomorrow’s schedule for donors to sign up. However, Paider said if anyone can’t make it, they have plenty more opportunities to give coming up across the U.P.

“We kind of go all over,” he said. “So, if you find a location that’s near you, go for it. As long as you come in, you got good veins for us, we’ll stick ya!”

To find a blood drive near you, visit the American Red Cross website and enter your zip code.