Blood supply levels near critical levels

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

American Red Cross officials state that blood inventories have reached the lowest levels in years, prompting this area’s Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region to announce an emergency donor appeal.

The American Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations to improve declining blood inventory levels. All blood types are needed, but types O positive and A positive are experiencing particularly high demand.

“We are nearing a potential crisis for patients at the more than 90 hospitals we serve,” stated John Hagins, CEO.  “We’ve not seen the usual post-Labor Day rebound in donor turnout. As a direct result, blood inventories have continued to drop as patients’ needs increase. Without your help, patients are at risk for not receiving the transfusions they need.”

Recent weather is a contributing factor. Dozens of blood drives up and down the east coast have been cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and other storms, resulting in the shortfall of several thousand blood donations.

Hagins emphasized that other Red Cross blood regions and non-Red Cross blood centers are also currently experiencing low supplies. “We need an immediate increase in donor appointments and turnout at scheduled blood drives to replenish depleted supplies to meet the needs of patients at area hospitals. “

Individuals can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-700-733-2767) or go online at www.redcrossblood.org to find blood drives in their area and schedule an appointment. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-in donors are welcome.

Those who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in many states), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Those with specific eligibility questions should call the Red Cross Donor Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276. Many donors are eligible to give blood every 56 days.

Individuals may also follow the Red Cross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/redcrossGAR  

The Greater Alleghenies Region directly serves hospitals, patients and donors in a 100-county area in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, with more than five-dozen blood products and related services, and also supports blood needs experienced by patients elsewhere in hospitals served through Red Cross Blood Services.