Today we’re talking about the nationwide blood crisis in the U.S. and the importance of donating blood.

We all know how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world as a whole, but there are so many individual consequences that have stemmed from these difficult times. One of these consequences is that the U.S. is currently facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade due to the pandemic fueling a decline in blood drives and overall blood donations across the nation.

In mid-January of this year, The American Red Cross declared a “national blood crisis” as blood donation processes were disrupted and blood centers across the U.S. have reached dangerously low levels of supply. Blood centers across the country continue to see a decline in donor turnout and have experienced staffing challenges due to the pandemic as well.

Doctors are having to make difficult decisions about what patients should be prioritized for blood transfusions versus who will be forced to wait until more blood becomes available. Hospitals have become limited in the number of surgeries they can perform without an adequate blood supply, which has caused many delays and cancellations. If the nation’s blood supply is not quickly stabilized, then trauma centers across the country may be forced to shut down for extended periods of time and lifesaving blood may not be available for patients in need.

With this national blood crisis, the San Diego Blood Bank, and blood banks across the country, are experiencing a major decline in donor turnout. These collection challenges have disrupted blood supply, resulting in alarmingly low inventories of blood products for the community. 

My guest, Claudine Van Gonka, is the Director of Community Relations and Marketing for the San Diego Blood Bank. She is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of San Diego Blood Bank’s marketing strategies and public relations activities. Claudine joins me today to discuss the current national blood shortage, how this crisis evolved, and what we can do about it. She explains the importance of keeping blood drives going, making appointments to donate, and doing so on a regular basis if and when eligible. Claudine also provides information about who is and isn’t eligible to donate blood, along with how the donation process works and what to expect.

On Friday, March 25th, TerraPro Solutions and the Better Business Bureau Serving the Southwest, will be hosting a mobile blood drive, in association with the San Diego Blood Bank. The blood drive will be held from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Better Business Bureau, 4747 Viewridge Ave., San Diego, CA 92123. The public is encouraged to donate. For appointments, visit, or call 619-400-8251. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components – red cells, platelets, and plasma – which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.

“It’s very important to have blood drives, to keep blood drives going, for people to make appointments, and to donate on a regular basis. What we like to say is, “It’s the blood already on the shelves that saves lives.” We ask people not to wait until there’s an emergency, because that blood needs to be collected and processed and tested, and there are many days involved in that.” – Claudine Van Gonka

About Claudine:

Claudine Van Gonka is the Director of Community Relations and Marketing for the San Diego Blood Bank. She is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of San Diego Blood Bank’s marketing strategies and public relations activities.

Claudine manages media, government, and hospital relations and cultivates relationships across various sectors to raise the profile of San Diego Blood Bank. She also serves as the primary media spokesperson for the organization.

Claudine has been with San Diego Blood Bank since 2004, in roles including fundraising, special events, communications, and public relations. Prior to joining the blood bank, Claudine worked for Clear Channel Communications, (now iHeartMedia), in marketing and promotions and as a radio morning show co-host.

About San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB):

SDBB is dedicated to community health by providing a reliable supply of blood to patients in need. Their vision is to further ensure the health of their community by simultaneously delivering related health and wellness education and services and extending into research.

SDBB is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves hospitals in San Diego, Orange, Imperial, and Los Angeles counties with blood transfusion products and reference laboratory services. SDBB currently operates nine donation locations and 10 bloodmobiles. For more information about SDBB, visit, or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.   

“One blood donation could save up to three lives. One blood donation consists of red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Those three components could go into three different people just with one blood donation. You’re saving multiple lives with one hour of your time.” – Claudine Van Gonka

Check out the video below to watch our interview:

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