SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Blood banks are desperate for donations right now, and it's a national problem.

You might take calls for blood donations for granted. It does happens now and again, after all: your area blood bank runs low on donations. That’s always a big problem for local hospitals. So the call goes out to help.

But what’s happening now is on a different scale from the occasional local blood donation shortage.

Unlike some things, there’s no artificial replacement for blood. When people need a donation, it has to come from another person. So when blood blanks run low, lives are put at risk.

In the latest episode of The Health Variant podcast, host and NewsMD Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg interviews Dr. Maria Beaver, pathologist and Transfusion Services medical director with Essentia Health in Duluth, Minnesota.

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Beaver breaks down what's going on with the supply of blood donations, what's at risk and the importance of donating blood. Also, bonus: Some ideas for how to get over a fear of needles.

Interested in donating blood? Here are links to find your closest blood bank or donation site:

"The Health Variant" digs into health topics important to the region, such as fitness, COVID-19, cannabis and telehealth, introduces listeners to must-know places and people and offers behind-the-scenes reporting.

NewsMD is a Forum Communications brand focusing on health and health care reporting, primarily in the Upper Midwest, including coverage of industry news, research, trends, technology, economic and policy issues.

"The Health Variant" podcast is available on major podcast apps, including:

For comments or podcast episode topic suggestions, contact Fugleberg at jfugleberg@forumcomm.com or on Twitter: @jayfug.