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Red Cross issues emergency call for blood

ALBANY, Ga. -- The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. According to Red Cross sources, the shortfall leaves the Red Cross with just half the readily available blood products on hand this time last year.

The organization attributes the blood shortage to a number of factors, including an "unseasonably early start to spring" prompting summer activities rather thoughts of giving blood. In addition the mid-week July 4th celebration has prompted extended vacations making it difficult for sponsors to host drives.

"'Emergency' is not a term the Red Cross uses very often," said Dick Rockey, donation recruitment representative, American Red Cross, "The need is there and that's why we're asking people in Albany to donate on July 4th."

Rockey said everyone who "presents" on that date at the Red Cross Donor Center at 1515 Dawson Road between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m. will receive a ticket for a free car wash at Goo-Goo Express carwash on Dawson Road. In addition, at the end of the day there will be a drawing, sponsored by The Albany Herald, for four tickets to the Braves versus Mets game in Atlanta on July 14, valet parking included. All four tickets will go to one winner.

Rockey emphasized that while the blood promotion is for Independence Day, the donor center welcomes contributions on almost any day.

"The need for blood never takes a day off," Rockey said. "In that respect, every day is a special day."

According to the Red Cross, collection of more than 17,000 pints of blood are collected for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good health may be able to donate. For more information or to make an appointment, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org.

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