The cancellation of at least 20 local blood drives as of Friday morning has prompted Houchin Community Blood Bank to call for individual donations to help the nonprofit keep up with demand from Kern County hospitals.
Houchin President and CEO Brad Bryan said the rash of cancellations was related to understandable concerns about the need to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
But patients will continue to need blood despite the slowdown in donations, he said.
In normal times, he said, Houchin would make up the difference by buying units of blood from other areas. That's not possible now, however, because of a nationwide shortage caused by widespread blood-drive cancellations.
While people are dying because of the virus, he said, "I can tell you a lot more people are going to die from needing blood."
"And this is not just a Kern County situation," he continued. "This is across the nation."
Houchin typically delivers between 1,500 to 2,000 units of blood to local hospitals on a monthly basis.
Bryan did not venture a guess on what size shortage Houchin might face but said, "undoubtedly we and every other blood bank in the nation aren't going to be able to provide for the hospitals."
He asked that individuals consider donating directly to either of Houchin's local blood donation centers.
One is located at 5901 Truxtun Ave. The other is at 11515 Bolthouse Drive. Both are open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"If you're sick, don't come in, and if you're healthy, bring a friend," Bryan said.