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Blood banks getting creative in trying to recruit new donors

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The pandemic brought parts of our lives to a screeching halt this year, but the need for blood donations in hospitals was not one of them. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

The pandemic brought parts of our lives to a screeching halt this year, but the need for blood donations in hospitals was not one of them.

Sinclair Broadcast Group correspondent Melanie Torre shows how blood centers across the U.S. are trying to recruit more donors to serve cancer, trauma, and even COVID-19 patients.

Bailey Tipps started donating blood and platelets to "We are Blood" in Austin 10 years ago.

"They awarded me some 40 gallon award this past year and my wife was like.. are you really going that much?! I was like.. yeah! that's it?," said Tipps.

This year when COVID-19 slowed the world around us, Tipps didn't lose his momentum. he says times have been hard for many and donating was his way of giving back.

"You do feel good about it," he said. "That's probably first and foremost. The warm fuzzies."

This year, blood banks nationwide are reporting a drastic drop in blood supply. School and business closures are causing widespread mobile blood drive cancellations. That's where organizations like "We are Blood" collect half of their yearly donations.

"When those mobile drives canceled in mass, we struggled to be able to meet the need of the community for blood transfusions," said Nick Canedo, VP of Community Engagement with We Are Blood.

They've since gotten creative, trying to recruit new donors at golf courses and retail centers. Blood centers were able to catch their breath when many states halted elective surgeries, but those restrictions are lifting and the demand for blood is growing. At the same time, the numbers of new donors is not and blood banks are operating at reduced capacity to prioritize safety.

"While the rest of the country might be relaxing their standards for social distancing and sheltering in place, blood centers, including We are Blood, need to maintain the utmost safety procedures possible," said Canedo.

Heading into late summer and fall, the need for blood will remain critical in communities across the country.

"There's a lot going on out there right now and feeling like you have a purpose or something greater than yourself to give to is often.... kind of a reset button for a lot of folks," said Tipps.

And folks like Tipps say they'll be there to help.


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