▶ Watch Video: Red Cross sees increase in blood donations

After CBS News reported on the historic blood shortage leading the Red Cross to declare the first ever “national blood crisis,” many viewers were inspired to sign up to donate blood, including “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell. In some parts of the country, blood drives are completely booked this week. 

Meredith Bills and Katie Ripley were among those who stepped up. 

“I really did like watch the show and I thought, ‘I could go do that, I haven’t done that in decades,'” Bills said. 

Earlier Tuesday, O’Donnell gave blood at the Red Cross’ Hall of Service in Washington, D.C. Her blood donation will help up to three people. 

“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell donates blood at the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2022. 

CBS News

“We are grateful that Norah and her team are rolling up their sleeves, donating blood, and raising awareness about the Red Cross’s first-ever blood crisis amid the Omicron surge,” said American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. 

Blood donations plummeted during the pandemic, with the Red Cross seeing a 34% decline in new donors. But there are COVID-19 safety measures in place, including social distancing and mask requirements for all. 

“Very safe and painless, it doesn’t hurt at all,” O’Donnell said about her experience donating. 

It was her second time donating blood, but Ripley donated for the first time. 

“It really feels like a concrete way to help people and do some good in a time when a lot of us feel powerless,” Ripley said. 

Ripley isn’t just a donor. A blood donation saved her life after she was hit by a car when she was 6 years old. 

“What’s motivating me is knowing that I can help other people the way that I was helped, and I’m so grateful for the person who donated blood so that I could be here today,” she said. 

The Red Cross said this week’s outpouring of support is a step in the right direction, but it needs more donations to overcome the crisis. 

For resources on how to donate blood, visit: www.cbsnews.com/blood. If you do give blood, tag “CBS Evening News” in your social media posts using #GiveWithMe.