The coronavirus outbreak is forcing the cancellation of blood drives across the country, which is putting a strain on blood supplies. Blood centers said there is an urgent need for donors and want the community to know it is safe to donate.
Demitrious Wyant suffers from sickle cell disease. He said he relies on blood donations to survive.
"There's no telling what can go on from now and tonight, so it's imperative that I have the blood that I need when I need it," Wyant said.
But there is not enough blood. Susan Forbes with OneBlood said the supply is low, not only in Central Florida but across the country because of the coronavirus.
OneBlood serves more than 250 hospitals across the southeast.
Forbes said donations are down and more than 180 blood drives in the OneBlood service area. She said that is 3,400 units of blood that won’t be collected.
"For every blood drive that doesn't happen, for every donor that doesn't come in that further puts the blood supply at risk and if we continue to see blood drives being canceled, this is going to create a situation with blood supply which is really unprecedented and put us in a critical situation," Forbes said.
Forbes said people are scared to donate. Some are concerned about their health and safety, but she said donors have nothing to worry about.
"This is a safe environment for you to come to because the way we operate and only healthy donors can come in and donate," she said.
Forbes said the FDA has not imposed additional restrictions on blood centers.
Cathy Shepperly is a long time blood donor. She said she knows the need is great, especially now.
"Don't be afraid. It's empty in here. You're not going to get anything. If you feel healthy, come in and give. There are people depending on the blood that we give," Shepperly said.
People like Wyant who are depending on donors to stay alive.
"It can be a matter of life and death, so it's imperative that you donate blood, please, to help save a life," Wyant said.
Click here to find a blood drive or blood center near you.