By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The coronavirus outbreak has caused a serious blood shortage around the country and in the Philadelphia region. A special blood drive is happening Thursday in Bryn Mawr.

The Red Cross said it urgently needs blood and it is safe to donate.

Thursday’s blood drive has been organized by the family of a star athlete who’s fighting cancer.

Jack Cloran had his leg amputated in February. It’s a big adjustment for the football player.

The 18-year-old has osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

In chemo treatments at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cloran doesn’t need blood transfusions but other patients do. That’s what inspired the blood drive at Sacred Heart Academy.

“Every time we go there, we see someone worse off than Jack every time and you just want to, everybody wants to try to do something to help, so this was something we thought we should go forward,” Jack’s mom, Kath Cloran, said.

“We felt like we could help others. In the midst of trying times, it was something that we could do for others,” Jack’s aunt, Tyl Sadoff, said.

Sadoff says the current coronavirus outbreak makes the blood drive Thursday even more important.

“We are dealing with giving to save a life. That it is most essential, that we continue with these drives, and while thousands of thousands of these are being canceled, we wanted to step up and forge on,” Sadoff said.

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The Red Cross says blood is desperately needed. Donations have dropped dramatically because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Just this area alone, in the Penn-Jersey area, we’ve had over 220 blood drives canceled, resulting in 8,000 units of blood. And I will tell you that number continues to go up daily,” Guy Triano, with the Red Cross, said.

Triano says giving blood is safe. The Red Cross blood drives and collections strictly follow federal guidelines to make sure donors and staff aren’t put at any additional risk of exposure to the virus.

“We’re being extremely cautious about that. We’re making sure peoples’ temperatures are checked, we’re making sure that there’s extra hand washing. There’s sanitation and hand sanitizer at all the blood drives,” Triano said.

The blood drive organized by Jack’s group, #2Strong, has been expanded because so many others have been canceled.

Donation times are assigned ahead of time. There are no walk-ups.

“Everybody around us, we have a really big family, everyone in our community, everybody says, ‘What can we do to help?’ Everybody wants to help and everyone can help in different ways,” Kath Cloran said.

The Red Cross is holding a series of blood drives open to the public. People are urged to register ahead of time, which you can do by calling 1-800-red-cross, or at redcrossblood.org.

You can put in your zip code and find a blood drive close to you.

Stephanie Stahl