More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals and medical facilities across the region are still “desperate” for blood supplies to their patients, according to a representative of the American Red Cross. Many people, organizations and places pledge to help by donating blood or holding frequent blood drives.

Sean MacMillan, of Salinas, was one of dozens who donated blood at a drive Aug. 9 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Morgan Hill. The church held monthly blood drives shortly after the pandemic began and plans to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

These blood drives, along with many others planned in the Santa Clara Valley and beyond, are coordinated by the American Red Cross.

MacMillan has long said he gave blood as often as he could, about every 56 days, as often as health experts advised. He has donated to the Morgan Hill LDS site at least 20 times.

“Because I can, and not enough people do,” MacMillan said when asked why he donates blood. “For a lot of (causes), I don’t like giving money. It’s something I can give, it takes a little time and it helps others.

As a bonus, when he comes to Morgan Hill, MacMillan always visits a local friend and former colleague who buys lunch when MacMillan is in town.

Ken Dahl, the American Red Cross coordinator for blood drives in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, said the demand for fresh blood has steadily increased since the start of the Covid pandemic. -19 in March 2020.

“After two years of Covid, many hospitals in the region are asking us for 10% more blood than we were giving before Covid,” Dahl said. “So the need for blood is not only constant and always, but right now it’s kind of at its peak.”

Dahl said all blood types are in demand – “that’s how desperate the supply is right now”.

About 60 people registered for the Aug. 9 blood drive before it started, Dahl said.

In Morgan Hill, the American Red Cross has scheduled another blood drive for August 20 at the South Valley Masonic Center, 380 West Dunne Ave. Donors can pre-register by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.

Blood donors are particularly needed this month to “prevent a shortage of blood”, says an ARC press release. Only about 3% of the US population donates blood, although 62% of Americans are eligible to do so.

Those who donate blood at ARC blood drives in August will be entered to win vehicle fuel for one year and will receive a $10 gift card for a merchant of their choice.

The local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has played an important role in encouraging more blood donations. Four South Valley LDS churches, located in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister and San Jose, each hold monthly blood drives for the American Red Cross, according to Carl Woodland, Morgan Hill LDS member and volunteer blood drive coordinator on the four sites. .

Before the pandemic, churches held quarterly campaigns, Woodland explained. They responded to the increased demand by going monthly. In Morgan Hill, the LDS Church holds outings on the second Tuesday of each month.

Woodland said it was part of the church’s emphasis on community and humanitarian service. This objective also includes an ongoing relationship with the CRA for emergency preparedness and volunteer response efforts, among other initiatives.

“We like to have good positive things that we create in the community, and a blood drive is one of them,” Woodland said. “When people come to this place, they come to a nice place where they can donate blood, and that’s a service they can provide.”

Morgan Hill resident Luisa Cartier also donated blood on August 9. She only heard about the blood drive a few hours earlier, when she saw the sign in front of the church as she walked past.

Cartier – who has donated blood before – said she was motivated to give blood shortly after waking up on August 9 when she heard of a recent death and ‘wanted to do something positive’ .

Shelly Murray, team supervisor for the American Red Cross band Luisa Cartier, of Morgan Hill, after Cartier donated a pint of blood at the August 9 blood drive at the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Photo: Michael Moore

Upcoming blood drives

The American Red Cross will sponsor a blood drive on August 20 at the South Valley Masonic Center, 380 West Dunne Ave. at Morgan Hill. Additionally, Morgan Hill Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 1790 E. Dunne Ave., holds monthly blood drives with ARC staff.

For details on upcoming ARC blood drives in the area and to find out if you are eligible to donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org.