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Holiday season brings shortage of blood donations | Health Beat with Brea Love

The American Red Cross is reporting its lowest blood supply in a decade. One cancer survivor shares why you should consider donating.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The holidays are a time of giving, but for blood donation centers —  UC Davis Health Center Director of Transfusion Medicine Dr. Sarah Barnhard said it's another story. 

"There are many people that are traveling now, and because of that, the regular donors that would come in often times are on vacation or are traveling elsewhere," she said. "If you can this month, please come out and donate blood because it's even more essential at this time of year."

Brittany DeNorscio knows the importance of blood donation. She was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2017.

Going through chemo, bone marrow transplants and countless blood transfusions, DeNorscio said she was thankful blood donors saved her life — even if she didn't know who they were.

But she said the road to remission was still a process.

"With chemo, basically they're zapping everything in your system. They're kind of destroying all of the cells that are the cancer cells that are coming out of your bone marrow and trying to replace it with better blood cells that are going to eventually wipe the cancer out from your system," DeNorscio told our Brea Love. "When I finally did get donor cells from an anonymous donor, (it) kind of basically rebooted my whole system and started off with fresh blood cells."

Now she's almost five years in remission and encouraging others to consider donation. 

"You could be, you know, walking down the street and pass somebody you don't even know that you saved their life just by donating blood," DeNorscio said.

Barnhard said the process is simple. It typically takes a half an hour to complete and has a quick recovery. 

"There is no other medical therapy that can replace giving blood transfusions to patients. There are a whole host of patients that need blood transfusions in order to survive. They would include everyone from the oncology wards to patients who deliver babies and then have bleeding afterward," she said. "Even tiny babies in the intensive care unit oftentimes need to have blood transfusions in order to save their life."

The American Red Cross said it's seeing its lowest blood supply in a decade. It's offering incentives if you choose to donate before Dec. 16. 

You can find the closest donation event on its website


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