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September 28, 2022

Hospitals, clinics ‘desperate’ for blood

Need grows as Hollister church makes it easy to donate

More than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic started, hospitals and medical facilities throughout the region are still “desperate” for blood supplies for their patients, according to an American Red Cross representative. One way that many people, organizations and venues are committed to helping is by donating blood or hosting frequent blood drive events.

Not that any of the “regulars” who donate at a monthly American Red Cross blood drive at the Hollister Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints need any convincing, even though new donors are always welcome, according to blood drive coordinators.

At the Aug. 18 blood drive at the church on Cienega Road, one of those regular donors was San Benito County Supervisor Bob Tiffany. He said he has been donating blood for “many, many years.” In recent times, he estimates his schedule has allowed him to donate about 4-5 times annually.

“It’s a really easy thing to do. As long as you’re healthy, it’s one of the few things that doesn’t cost any money and it takes just a little bit of time,” Tiffany said. “It’s something I like to do.”

He added that people who have avoided giving blood out of an aversion to needles or medical procedures have nothing to fear. The blood donation process is “painless,” Tiffany said.

Carl Woodland is a volunteer coordinator for monthly blood drives at four LDS churches, located in Hollister, Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose.

Woodland donated a “double red” draw of blood at the Aug. 18 drive in Hollister. Different from a typical single draw of a pint of blood, a double red pulls two units from an individual in one sitting. A person can donate a single unit of blood once every two months or so, but can give a double draw once every 112 days, according to experts.

Woodland said he prefers donating a double draw in order to “maximize” his and the church’s contribution to the community and to those who need blood.

He added that the ARC website allows donors to see the impact of their blood and how it may have helped someone else. Woodland’s donor info has shown in the past that a young girl ended up receiving his blood to help her survive a medical condition. 

“That’s why you do it, because you know there’s people out there who need the blood,” Woodland said.

Ken Dahl, the American Red Cross coordinator for blood drives in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, said earlier this month that the demand for fresh blood has continuously climbed since the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020.

“After two years of Covid, we are being asked by many hospitals in the area for 10% more blood than we were giving pre-Covid,” Dahl said. “So the need for blood is not only constant and always, but right now it’s at a bit of a peak.”

Dahl said all blood types are in demand—“that’s how desperate the supply is at the moment.”

In Hollister, donors can sign up to give blood at the monthly LDS blood drives, or any blood drive coming up in the region, by visiting the American Red Cross website at RedCrossBlood.org.

Linda Hansen, another volunteer for the four monthly LDS drives, said about 40 people signed up for the Aug. 18 event beforehand. That number is typical each month for the site.

“I think it helps that people know we are scheduled every month and they will count on us being here,” Hansen said. “We have people who, as soon as they’re finished today, they’ll go home and schedule their next one for two months from now.” 

Another regular Hollister donor and blood drive volunteer is Richard Steele. He said he has donated blood about 115 times in his life, adding up to about 14 gallons. He has volunteered at the Hollister LDS blood drives for about seven years.

The site has been hosting blood drives for 15 years, Woodland said. After the pandemic, the four LDS churches ramped up their efforts by increasing the frequency of blood drives to monthly instead of quarterly.

One donor who was new to the Hollister site Aug. 18 is Nancy Sampson, who has lived in the area for about four years. She used to donate blood regularly near her previous residence in another state, but only recently discovered the monthly Hollister drive.

“My mother died of leukemia, and me and my sister have been giving blood ever since,” Sampson said.

Woodland said the four monthly drives are part of the church’s focus on community and humanitarian service. That focus also includes an ongoing relationship with the ARC for emergency preparedness and volunteer response efforts, among other initiatives.

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

Richard Steele donates blood at the Aug. 18 blood drive hosted by the Hollister LDS church and the American Red Cross. Steele said he has been volunteering at the church’s blood drives for about seven years, and has donated blood about 115 times in his life. Photo: Michael Moore

Monthly blood drive

The Hollister Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in partnership with the American Red Cross, hosts regular blood drives on the third Thursday of every month. The church is located at 1670 Cienega Road. The American Red Cross also hosts occasional blood drives at various other locations throughout San Benito and Santa Clara counties. To register to donate at an upcoming blood drive, or to find out more about how to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org.  

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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