CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – If you have an accident or a medical condition, blood transfusions may be crucial when it comes to feeling better. But the American Red Cross says donors aren’t coming out to give like they used to, leading to what they are calling a serious situation.

Giving blood is part of life for some people. Donor Billie Smith says it is hard to explain why donation drives aren’t busier.

“I don’t know why people would be reluctant to give blood,” Smith said. “Of course some people, needles are not their thing, but it is something you can do.”

Leaders at the Red Cross say the pandemic has been a challenge.

“Normally we like to have five days worth of blood on the shelf and we are down to less than a half-day supply,” said Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer at American Red Cross West Virginia Region.

She says new donor recruitment is down 34% this year.

“We weren’t allowed to be in schools. That was a huge location for us to have donations as well as having new donors to put into the system,” Mani said.

Like with many other organizations across the country, staffing shortages have also been a factor. It hasn’t happened often locally, but a few drives have been called off because there weren’t enough people to work.

“There are phlebotomists for each bed, screeners for everybody that comes in, there are greeters, those who are processing,” she explained. “So there is a lot of things right there in front of you as well as behind the scenes that you don’t think about.”

All factors of those factors are leading to heavy concerns when it comes to making sure blood supplies are there for people in their time of need.

“I hope people hear that this is an emergency right now,” Mani said. “What we are trying to avoid is anyone being without that life-saving blood that they need if they’ve had a trauma.”

For more information on how to donate blood, click HERE.