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'There's a big need right now': Blood banks make push for more donations, diverse donors

With a blood emergency crisis, there's a need for more donations, but there's also a need for more diverse donors.

HARTFORD, Conn. — January is National Blood Donor Month, and now more than ever, blood banks are pushing for donations as they navigate through a significant blood emergency crisis.

"I'm coming up on a gallon I'm really excited," said Shannon Leddy as she rolled up her sleeve to donate blood again. She said it's simple yet essential for our community. 

"People need the donations. You know, there's a big need right now, and this is a way I can help," said Leddy. 

With a blood emergency crisis, there's a need for more donations, but there's also a need for more diverse donors.

"Only 3% of our eligible population actually donates blood," explained  Richard Branigan, Chief Operating Officer of the American Red Cross, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Region. "It's all the more critical to have everyone represented in that pool."

RELATED: American Red Cross announces major blood shortage, urges donations

Experts say ethnically diverse blood donors help ensure people access their best possible match. 

Branigan explained that traits like sickle cell, which black and brown populations have a greater propensity for that disease type.

"So when you have an opportunity to be more precise with the match, it's obviously for the best interest of the patient," he said.

"The more diverse donors, the more chance we have to help more diverse blood donor recipients," explained Andreina Sosa, Regional Communication Manager with American Red Cross. 

This is why rolling up your sleeve can help save up to three lives. 

"Every unit every donation is extremely valuable for the hospitals and the patients that they serve," explained Jonathan Decasanova, donor recruitment manager with the Connecticut Blood Center

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Decasanova explained the Connecticut Blood Center works with a family of blood centers and servers more than a dozen hospitals in the state-- which is why inventory is crucial. But, like many blood banks, he said they're facing a dangerously low blood supply. 

"We typically like to have three to five days of inventory, and unfortunately, right now, we only have about one to two days," said Decasanova.

The American Red Cross was also hit hard.  

"The Red Cross aims for a five-day blood supply in each hospital, and right now we're down to like one," said Sosa. 

RELATED: Manchester FD in need of top talent, says they can provide first responder career

This is why there's an ongoing push to get people to donate. 

"The more diversity we have in our blood donors, the better," said Sosa.

"There is no substitute for blood, and we do need donors," passionately explained Decasanova. "We encourage people to roll up their sleeves and help us stabilize our supply. Not just here in Connecticut, but nationwide." 

Blood is at a critical low, if you would like to help check out the resources below to donate: 

To schedule an appointment to donate at the Connecticut Blood Center, CLICK HERE

For additional information about the new Connect Blood Center in Middletown, CT. CLICK HERE

To schedule an appointment to donate at the American Red Cross, CLICK HERE

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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