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"We are pleading for help:" how WNY's blood shortage affects you

A lack of donations inspired by COVID-19 and congressional legislation could soon lead to serious health risks here in Western New York.
Blood donation
Posted at 11:24 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 15:00:31-05

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — "If the donations stop, we could run out of blood in as little as 1-3 days," said Amanda Farrell, the Senior Director at Connectlife, a company specializing in blood donation collection and distribution.


Connectlife tells 7 News they estimate about Western New York hospitals require about 35,000 annual units of blood to stay on track with transfusions, surgeries, and typical medical procedures.

"Don't forget about trauma. This is absolutely a shortage, and its a serious problem. Blood isn't something we can run out of safely," said Farrell.

The company has announced numerous partnerships in order to spur donations, which they place concerns largely on the COVID-19 pandemic and fatigue.

"The blood supply is already fragile. Combine that with everything going on - and we have a serious situation," said Farrell.

If you are looking to donate blood through the company, options are available to receive a free pint of Perry's Ice Cream, tickets to see the Buffalo Bandits, and other treats - including free beer vouchers from New York Beer Project.

In addition to the companies partnership with local businesses to spur donations, local nonprofit and grassroots effort Blood is Blood tells 7 News they believe the shortage is more than just COVID-19 fatigue.

"My frustration began back in 2015 when I went to go donate blood at my local American Red Cross ... and I was denied. Later on I was told that it was because I was a gay man and had sex with another man," said Jordan James, the founder of the group.

James and his group have been staunch advocates against the 1984 United States Food and Drug Administration policy banning blood donations by men who identify as LGBTQ+ and discole to having sexual relations with a member of the same sex. While that policy is no longer a complete ban, there is a three month pause period between a person who discloses sexual acts can donate.

“For a man who has sex with another man during the past three months - defer them for three months from their most recent sexual contact." - United States Food & Drug Administration.

"When I found out this, I felt like a second-class citizen. I was disgusted. Especially when I found out that there was such a shortage, and so many people wrongly held out from donation," said James.

The group has partnered with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) to advance legislation to rid the country of what James calls, "ancient."

"The current policy is overly stringent given the scientific evidence, advanced testing methods, and safety and quality control measures within FDA-qualified blood donation centers; stigmatizes members of the LGBTQI+ community; and needlessly restricts the blood supply while our nation combats a critical blood shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic."- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26)

If you'd like to donate blood, you can find a drive here: