Big blood drives haven’t happened at schools and businesses over the past 19 months.By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the pandemic continues to linger on, a vital resource is now running low: blood.

The American Red Cross is at its lowest post-summer level in six years.

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At this point, organizations like Vitalant said they have enough supply to maintain UPMC and Allegheny Health Network.

“It’s not a one-and-done to maintain the blood supply. We ask people to donate as often as they’re able to,” Vitalant manager of communications Kristen Lane said.

Vitalant has a critical need of type O blood and platelets. Big blood drives haven’t happened at schools and businesses over the past 19 months.

“Those were organizations that regularly sponsored blood drives for us, so we’re seeing a shortage of donors due to the pandemic restrictions,” Lane said.

It is not expected to impact any surgeries in our area. UPMC and Excela Health say they have the supply to care for patients

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Across the country, other hospitals are not as lucky.

“Our hospitals, our trauma centers, those that are helping cancer centers, and car accident victims, they are the ones reaching out saying we need more product. We just can’t meet this need,” American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region Director of Communications Lisa Landis said.

The Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the country’s blood. The Red Cross is not seeing any rebound in blood donations after the summer, and blood has a shelf life.

“It’s a daily balancing act to make sure we are keeping those products on the shelves when someone needs it,” Landis said.

Both organizations stress donations are done in a safe manner. Being vaccinated does not prevent somebody from donating blood.

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Click here or here for ways to get involved and donate blood: