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Blood donations needed

ALBANY -- Bad weather influencing the cancellation of blood drives in the United States has drastically impacted the blood supply.

The Southern Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross, in which metro Albany falls, is currently in emergent need of blood types O-negative and B-negative.

"Due to weather experienced across the country, blood drives have been canceled," said Susann McNair, donor recruitment representative for the Albany Donor Center. "This results in lots of blood not being collected.

"There were no blood drive cancellations in Albany, but we rely on other parts of the state. As a region, we are trying to increase the blood supply."

Roughly 15 percent of the region's blood donations come from drives held on school campuses, some of whom closed their classrooms as a result of inclement weather.

This shortage also comes at a time of the year when winter breaks and holiday travel compromise the donation flow.

"This comes on the heels of the holiday season," McNair said. "This has really had an affect on our blood supply."

A sufficient supply of O-negative can be especially useful in emergency situations when there is no time to determine a patient's blood type.

"Type O-negative is the universal donor," McNair said. "It's very important we have lots of O-negative."

Someone in the United States is in need of blood every two seconds. The local blood services region assists 120 hospitals and must have 1,200 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims and patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive transfusions daily.

Blood can safely be donated every 56 days. Most healthy people age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors aged 18 and younger must meet specific height and weight requirements.

"No matter what your blood type, come out. Make it a habit," McNair stressed. "Volunteer donors are the only source of blood. We don't know what tomorrow holds."

Officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say surgery schedules have not been impacted by the shortage.

"We are totally at stock," said Leigh Sandefur, medical technologist with Phoebe's blood bank. "The Red Cross supplies us with what we need. We have not been affected."

Palmyra Medical Center has also been unaffected by the situation, said Eric Riggle, spokesman for the hospital.

Donations may be made at the Albany Donor Center at 1515 Dawson Road. The center is open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday and; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Blood drives were held in Cordele and Sylvester Tuesday to help increase the supply. Drives are also planned from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursday at Colquitt EMC in Moultrie and from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Turner County Civic Center in Ashburn.