Iconic Burbank restaurant partners with Red Cross to help combat blood shortage

As Southern Californians return to pre-pandemic lifestyles, hospitals face a severe blood shortage.

Castaway Burbank's breathtaking views and spacious rooms provide the perfect backdrop for those willing to donate this much-needed precious commodity.

"I'm excited to be here and if it can help save someone's life, that's the main thing," said Cindy Hamodey of Burbank.

Castaway became a blood drive partner exactly a year ago when the American Red Cross faced thousands of cancellations. So far, they've held 13 drives and collected 476 units of blood.

And the need is more crucial than ever before.

MORE | Red Cross issues urgent plea for help as it deals with worst blood shortage in decades
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The Red Cross is issuing an urgent plea for help as it deals with a severe blood shortage, the worst its seen in decades.

Heidi Joline of Valley Glen is a repeat donor.

"It makes you feel good inside that you are helping all these people that you don't even know," said Joline.

The rise in trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries has prompted severe shortages. The lack is so great, some hospitals are even delaying crucial patient care.

"If somebody is having a knee replacement or a hip replacement, they may postpone that for a couple weeks. But if someone is having cancer surgery, you can't really postpone that because you don't want that cancer to grow," said Dr. Ross Herron, Red Cross Divisional Chief Medical Officer.

The Red Cross says it's operating on a day-and-a-half supply of Type O and Type B blood. And the rest of the nation depends on Southland donors.

"Los Angeles is one of the bigger collection sites for the country and it's not just because of our size, the weather is perfect year-round so people can give without having to worry about tropical storms, hurricanes or even snow storms," said Marium Hohiuddin with the Red Cross.

"It makes me feel good because I know I can help other people," said Joline.

The American Red Cross relies on longtime, dedicated donors like Joline. But this summer, supplies are expected to remain critically low so the agency needs to recruit new donors.

Hamodey is donating blood for the first time..

"I've always wanted to do it all my life. I just never have. We'll just see how it goes and I might be back again," she said.

That's what the Red Cross needs as the agency is unsure if normal blood drives will resume at high schools and colleges.

"We still need donors throughout the summer. Please call 1-800-Red Cross or online at redcrossblood.org or on the blood donor app," Herron said. "Make those appointments we need you to keep coming out."
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