American Red Cross facing possible emergency blood shortage

Donors with blood types O negative, B negative and A negative blood especially needed

ALBANY — While it appears that a steady pace is being maintained on a regional level to meet the need for blood, officials with the American Red Cross have indicated that it is facing a looming blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

Officials with the Red Cross say donations are now down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected. The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the organization could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks, the Red Cross said earlier this week.

On a regional level, there is still a push for donors, although the situation is not currently looking bleak.

“Donations in the Southern Blood Services Region, which covers most of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida, have kept pace with expectations, potentially allowing us to help patients not only here in our communities, but across the country,” said Kristen Stancil, external communications manager for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services region. “All blood types are needed, especially donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood …”

The Red Cross said, the Independence Day holiday falling on Friday this year reduced the number of blood drives scheduled early in the month. Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week. In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week when only 3,450 drives occurred.

” … The Red Cross blood supply is not as low as this time last year, thanks to the efforts of volunteer blood drive coordinators, generous donors and dedicated staff. We are asking the public’s help now because, for each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need …,” Stancil said.

There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients, must be transfused within five days of donation.

Officials with the Red Cross have said that the summer can be among the most challenging times of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they take vacations and participate in summer activities. When school is out of session for summer break, donations from those who normally give on campus tend to drop by more than 80 percent, giving potential for the activity to pick back up in the fall.

Opportunities to donate blood at the Albany Blood Donation Center at 1515 Dawson Road over the next week will be from 8 a.m.-noon today, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Monday, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 31. Upcoming drives in the near future outside the center will include one at Dougherty County Public Works at 2108 Habersham Road from 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Aug. 7, and another at the Government Center at 222 Pine Avenue from 7 a.m.-noon on Aug. 8.

A spokeswoman at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital said Wednesday that its blood bank has not experienced any shortages in supply.

Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may now be eligible to donate again and help patients such as accident victims, heart surgery patients and children with blood disorders, the Red Cross said. Whole blood can be donated every 56 days. Donations through the Red Cross can help patients at a nearby hospital, or those outside the area seeking medical treatment. People who are 17 years of age, or 16 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Eligible donors should call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to www.redcrossblood.org for more information and to make a blood donation appointment.