With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a drop in blood donations, officials at Cedars-Sinai Thursday urged residents to consider donating blood as an act of community service for the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
"Community blood drives in places like high schools, colleges and churches are traditionally our biggest source for blood donations," said Armando Romero, associate director of Blood Donor Services at Cedars-Sinai.
"With these venues closed and no longer hosting events like blood drives, we're struggling to keep up with demand."
Romero said that when the hospital runs low on blood, it normally relies on outside agencies such as the American Red Cross, but those agencies are also seeing drops in availability, along with increased demand from hospitals nationwide.
To fill the gap, Romero urged residents to donate blood in recognition of the MLK holiday, which is billed as a day for people to engage in community service -- "a day on, not a day off."
"What better way to serve your fellow human beings than giving of yourself on this national day of service," Romero said. "Especially now, when blood supplies are so low, your blood will likely be put to use within just a few days, helping a patient safely undergo a surgery they need to receive life saving medical treatment."
Hospital officials noted that people who want to donate can make appointments, which are spaced out to ensure physical distancing and eliminate crowding at the donation center. Donors also receive a free COVID-19 antibody test to determine if the person has ever been infected with the virus.
Donation appointments can be made online.