FAIRFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Red Cross is making a desperate plea for blood donations throughout the Tri-State Area.

Shortages have been experienced during the coronavirus pandemic, but now trauma cases, transplants, and elective surgeries are on the rise.

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As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Tuesday, the blood donation center in Fairfield is ready to welcome donors. Blood donations expire, and cannot be stockpiled. So there’s a constant need for donors, and the pandemic created even more dire circumstances.

For Sheila Kenny of South Orange, donating blood is personal.

“My husband had leukemia many years ago when he was a high school student, so he can’t give blood. So, we were just talking about it. So I can give blood and people still get leukemia and need blood, so that’s one thing that propels me now,” Kenny said.

Kenny’s type O blood is coveted.

When the Red Cross contacted her about a severe blood shortage, she answered the call throughout the pandemic.

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“I’m not in health care. I’m not a front-line worker, so this is something that I could do as an individual just to do a little part to help others,” Kenny said.

The Red Cross often relief on companies to host blood drives at their offices as a main source of donations, but people are still working from home. And with COVID protocols in schools, many of those drives were forced to be put on hold, all while the demand for blood has passed pre-pandemic levels.

“That demand from trauma centers alone, when we compare it to 2019, is a 10% increase, which is five times greater than other facilities that infuse blood,” said American Red Cross Northern New Jersey Executive Director Matthew Teter.

“It’s something simple I can do and it can help somebody. It’s easy to do. One quick stick and half an hour you’re done,” said Pat Howell of Clifton.

When you arrive at a Red Cross location, you will see COVID protocols are in place to make it a safe experience for everyone who wants to donate.

There’s a bit of an incentive: Everyone who donates until the end of the month will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

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For more information on blood donation in New Jersey, CLICK HERE. In New York, CLICK HERE. In Connecticut, CLICK HERE.

CBSNewYork Team