ATLANTA — Following a difficult Fourth of July week for blood and platelet donations and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors, the American Red Cross now faces a blood shortage and has issued an emergency call for eligible individuals of all blood types to give now and prevent delays in medical care.
Red Cross officials said about 450 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as people across the country celebrated the holiday. This led to about 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients in a single week, causing the Red Cross to now have less than a three-day supply of most blood types available — and less than a two-day supply of type O blood — for patients.
At least a five-day supply is desired.
“Medical emergencies and critical treatments don’t stop for holiday celebrations. Patients depend on lifesaving blood transfusions every day,” Cliff Numark, senior vice president for Red Cross Blood Services, said. “Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply when we need a five-day supply to be prepared for all situations that require blood products.
“To help meet this need, we’ve added about 8,000 additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. But we need people to fill those appointments.”
The Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to encourage donors, especially new donors and those who have not donated in the past few years, to give blood or platelets during the summer months. Through the campaign, the letters A, B and O — letters that make up the main blood groups — disappeared from popular brands to symbolize what happens when blood goes missing from hospital shelves during blood shortages.
Red Cross officials said that, despite an encouraging response to the campaign, blood donations still fell short of expectations in June, resulting in more than 24,000 fewer donations than needed — 726 fewer in the Southern Blood Services Region — and causing a significant drawdown of the Red Cross blood supply.
Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.
Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting www.redcrossblood.org/hostadrive.
Stephenie Lai was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on April 28, 2015, 10 days before the commencement ceremony for her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia. She had been exhibiting symptoms for a few months, finally making an appointment with the University Health Center after she noticed lumps around her neck.
Because of her chemotherapy treatments, Lai needed blood and platelets transfusions and went through two stem cell transplants. On Feb. 8, 2018, her cancer was in remission.
“I think it’s safe to say that my successful battle with cancer depended upon complete strangers and their donated blood,” she said. “For this, I am grateful. Sometimes I hear stories from friends about people who are scared of needles or afraid to donate blood. I wish I could stand face-to-face with those people and tell them there is nothing scary about saving a life — a life like mine.”
Upcoming blood donation opportunities in southwest Georgia include:
♦ Thursday, noon to 6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 409 First St. Southeast, Moultrie;
♦ Thursday, 2 to 7 p.m., Lee County Community Leesburg United Methodist Church, 117 Starksville Ave., Leesburg;
♦ Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wynfield Park Health & Rehabilitation, 223 W. Third Ave., Albany;
♦ Friday, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Tift Regional Medical Center Tift Regional Events Center, 1657 S. Carpenter Road, Tifton;
♦ Tuesday, noon to 6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 107 W. 12th St., Tifton;
♦ July 17, 1 to 5 p.m., Bethel Baptist Church, 2245 Bethel Road, Sycamore;
♦ July 18, 2 to 7 p.m., Turner County Civic Center, 601 E. Madison St., Ashburn.
♦ July 19, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Albany Mall, 2601 Dawson Road, Albany;
♦ July 24, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College John Hunt Town Center, 2802 Moore Highway, Tifton;
♦ July 25, 2 to 7 p.m., Byne Memorial Baptist Church, 2832 Ledo Road, Albany;
♦ July 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Panera Bread, 1211 Georgia 50 West, Tifton;
♦ July 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., New Birth Fellowship Church, 2106 Radium Springs Road, Albany
♦ July 29, 2 to 7 p.m., Albany Mall;
♦ July 30, 2 to 6 p.m., Albany Area YMCA, 1701 Gillionville Road, Albany;
♦ Aug. 5, noon to 5 p.m., Porterfield Memorial United Methodist Church, 2200 Dawson Road, Albany;
♦ Aug. 8, noon to 6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 409 First St. Southeast, Moultrie;
♦ Aug. 9, 1 to 5 p.m., Tift Regional Medical Center Tift Regional Events Center, Tifton; and
♦ Aug. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tift County Special Programs Building, 202 Baldwin Drive, Tifton.