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Red Cross battling blood-supply shortage

The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donors in response to about 21,000 fewer donations during September and October than required to meet hospital needs.

Currently, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are being received, according to the American Red Cross.

“Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types,” wrote Maya Franklin, external communications manager for the Red Cross’ Biomedical Field Marketing and Communications division, in an email to the Washington Daily News. Franklin also noted the following information:

  • Lower donor turnout and blood drive cancellations this month due to wildfires, winter storms and other severe weather are causing additional impacts on the blood supply.
  • There is an especially critical need for type O positive and O negative blood donors.
  • The American Red Cross urgently needs blood donors to give now to ensure blood is available for medical treatments and emergencies during the holiday season.

“Medical conditions and emergencies that require blood and blood products don’t stop for the holidays,” according to the Red Cross’ blood-services division website. “Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.”

Red Cross officials began stressing the need for blood donations about two weeks ago, and they’ve been renewing their calls for donations in recent days.

“This time of year, as many give thanks for family, friends and good health, it’s important to remember that patients across the country cannot survive without your generosity,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a Red Cross news released issued last week. “From traumas to ongoing cancer treatments, the need for blood doesn’t stop for the holidays. People can give back — and help those in need — by making a lifesaving blood or platelet donation now and hosting a blood drive in the weeks to come.”

Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services, said, “The Red Cross asks the American public for help. As we head into the busy holiday season, we are facing a particularly challenging situation and need blood and platelet donors to replenish the blood supply for hospital patients counting on us. Every day, we depend on the generosity of volunteers to roll up a sleeve to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for those in need, and today that need is urgent.”

Type O negative blood is the universal blood type. It is what emergency-room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most-dire situations. Blood donations cannot be stockpiled, which is why the Red Cross needs blood donors to give on a regular basis to ensure accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those receiving treatments for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell get the lifesaving treatment they need, when they need it.

The following are upcoming blood drives in the Beaufort County:

  • Today at Beaufort County Community College, Katie Paul Building (No. 12), noon to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, First Church of Christ, 520 E. 10th St., Washington, 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 17, The Blind Center, 219 N. Harvey St., Washington, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 17, Lowe’s, 1701 Carolina Ave., Washington, 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
  • Dec. 17, Bath and Body Works, 861 Washington Square Mall, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Dec. 17, Beaufort County Developmental Center, 1534 W. Fifth St., Washington, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 19, First United Methodist Church, 304 W. Second St., Washington, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

To donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood-donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

For platelet donations, call 1-888-353-1030 to make appointments.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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