PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 6abc teamed up with the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to hold all-day blood drives Thursday.
They were held at Vineland High School in New Jersey and the Marriott Courtyard on City Avenue in Philadelphia.
The organization is encouraging more people to donate blood after seeing a significant drop in donors during the pandemic. Nationwide in 2020, only 3% of the population donated blood compared to the usual 10%.
Eleanor Ripley from Philadelphia was one of the dozens of blood donors in the afternoon at the Marriott Courtyard. She heard about the drive on Action News. For her, giving blood hit home.
"I had a sister who passed away from lung cancer and so I thought of her and needing transfusions at times. So my heart particularly went out to cancer patients," Ripley said.
Between the drives in both states, nearly 180 people donated blood. On average, the American Red Cross must collect 13,000 blood donations every day for patients in about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the American Red Cross must collect approximately 700 blood donations to meet patients' needs at 130 hospitals.
"The most important blood type is Type O negative and O positive, but we do need all donors to get out there and donate," said CEO of Southeastern PA American Red Cross Guy Triano.
Everyone who is healthy and at least 16 years old can donate blood, though minors need parental consent. Also, people who have had COVID 19 and recovered and people who have been vaccinated for COVID 19 can donate blood.
"If the vaccine is Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson you can donate. If you're not sure what type of vaccine they received, they should wait a minimum of two weeks before donating," CEO of New Jersey American Red Cross Rosie Taravella said.
Experts say that people who have had the virus will not transfer the antibodies to a patient by donating blood.
Those with the American Red Cross said beyond the blood drives, people can help out by volunteering and there are many ways people can get involved virtually.
"I think it is one of those things that's really easy to forget about how dire this need is until you sort of see it in action, and so I really love 6abc is getting behind it," Action News' Assistant News Director Christine Bowley said.
For more information on how you can get involved go to www.redcross.org.