At New York Blood Center on Manhattan's Upper East Side, it only takes an hour to be a hero.
"It's a selfless act to come out and donate a pint of blood and help have that impact on three lives," New York Blood Center Business Development Manager Jennifer McCorry said.
And in the midst of a critical blood shortage, donating is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated seasonal blood shortages by sickening blood center staff and potential donors and forcing the cancellation of vital blood drives that are typically hosted by corporations and schools.
"We usually have a bit of a shortage at this time of year with the holidays and travel plans," McCorry said. "But now with the omicron variant, it's something that also has impacted people coming out."
The shortage isn't limited to the New York City tri-state area. The American Red Cross, which supplies 40 percent of the nation's blood, has seen the worst shortage in more than a decade, according to Matthew Teter, executive director of American Red Cross Northern New Jersey.
"We like to have about a five-day supply on hand at all times, and throughout this crisis, we found ourselves with less than a day supply," he said.
The consequences of a blood shortage can be serious. Blood is needed for a variety of conditions including anemia, certain cancers, and hemophilia, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, as well as for surgeries and accidents.
In spite of the high stakes, certain members of the LGBTQ+ community still cannot donate blood. The Food and Drug administration requires men who have sex with men to be abstinent for three months prior to donating blood. But the American Red Cross is working to change that policy.
"The American Red Cross position on this is very clear. We do not believe that blood donations and eligibility should be determined by one's sexual orientation," Teter told Cheddar News.
Against the odds, The Red Cross of Northern New Jersey hosted a successful blood drive in Jersey City with roughly 150 donors, thanks to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show and a Red Cross volunteer who works there.
"When I heard about the critical blood shortage, I thought what better way than to kind of merge forces between our super popular radio station and this critical blood shortage," said Andrew Pugliese, assistant to Elvis Duran and a Red Cross volunteer.
"Our listeners, we can depend on them to come out and do what they need to do and just spread — they really spread love and joy. It's what it's all about," said Danielle Monaro, co-host of Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.
And in the midst of the crisis, donors seemed eager to help.
"It's like, an hour, and then you're helping a few people, and I find that it's like a small thing that I can do that's very big for someone else," said Ahilan Subbaian, a donor from Hoboken.
"If it's a shortage, you know, we need more people to get out here and do it. That's the only way to fix the problem — to tackle it head-on," said Devonte McLaurin, a donor from Jersey City.
"I think anybody who can [donate] should. Yeah, it's critical, so I'm glad I can contribute," said Danielle Sleeper, a donor from Jersey City.