PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Blood Center is making an urgent call for donations of blood and plasma to sustain a safe supply.

The need for blood is always there, even when collections are down. As hospitals resume elective surgeries, the blood center says demand has returned to pre-COVID numbers.

Fifty percent of the blood center’s incoming supply comes from blood drives hosted by schools, organizations and businesses, but the pandemic canceled most of them since March.

Kara LeBlanc of the Rhode Island Blood Center says typical summer drop off combined with people still afraid to come out and donate because of the coronavirus has made collecting donations even harder.

“This is a challenge on top of a challenge that we have never faced before during this time of year and it’s going to take new donors to come out and help and donors who don’t normally go to the centers or to the drives that are open, to make it a priority,” LeBlanc said.

The blood center supplies hospitals all across Rhode Island and neighboring states. To be prepared they must have a seven-day supply of all blood types, but right now they only have enough for two to three days. Type O is needed the most, as well as A and B negative.

“Knowing that you can save somebody’s life really makes me feel good.” Christin Esposito spent a small part of her Saturday morning donating blood for the first time, and she’s already planning her next appointment.

“First initial pinch, and then you’re good, then you just relax, and just let it flow,” Esposito said.

The blood center takes everyone’s temperature at the door, screens donors, and requires masks be worn at all times, and everyone is distanced from each other. Donations are made by appointment to maintain social distancing at all times.

“Compounding this overall problem that we’re having are people booking appointments and not showing up,” LeBlanc said.

They’re asking people to keep appointments if you’re feeling well. LeBlanc says there’s no evidence COVID-19 can transfer from a donor to a patient through blood.

Donors can schedule appointments at or by calling 401-453-8383.