Statesboro-area residents have several chances to help alleviate the blood shortage. Here is a list of upcoming blood drives.
- Thursday: Statesboro Blood Donation Center, 12:30-5:30 p.m.)
- Friday: Starbucks, 2-6 p.m., and Bible Baptist Church, 1-6 p.m.)
- Monday: Eastern Heights Baptist Church, 2-6 p.m., and Statesboro Blood Donation Center, 12:30-5:30 p.m.)
- July 4: Firecracker Festival at Mill Creek Regional Park, 4-8 p.m.
Dwindling blood supplies have prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call to donors.
The Red Cross announced Monday that its blood supply has reached emergency levels, with 50,000 fewer donations nationwide than expected this month.
The shortfall leaves the organization with half of the readily available blood products on-hand compared with this time last year, said Nancy Martin, the senior account manager for American Red Cross Blood Services’ Southern Region.
“Usually we don’t get this low until after July 4. But things just haven’t picked up,” Martin said. “We are down at least 10 percent throughout the country.”
Red Cross officials say supply often falls during summer months, when donations take a backseat to summer vacations, but numbers this year are declining sooner.
“An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets,” Martin said in a news release issued Monday. “In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.”
As a result, the organization is calling on all eligible blood donors to contribute as soon as possible.
Martins said all blood types are needed, particularly O-positive, O-negative and A-negative, to meet patient demand this summer.
“Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Of that, the Southern Blood Services Region must collect approximately 1,200 pints per day,” said Randy Edwards, the CEO of the Southern Blood Services Region. “We need donors to make appointments in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure that all patient blood needs can be met. Each pint of whole blood can help save more than one life.
“There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren’t readily available or, in a worst-case scenario, have to forego a more serious procedure because of a shortage of blood,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
“We are trying to avoid canceling surgeries,” Martin said. “And we are pushing very hard for people to come out to drives and bring levels back to a safe amount.”
Locally, the American Red Cross has scheduled several events for donors to contribute.
Most people who are at least 17 years old and in generally good health are eligible to give blood, Martin said.
The Red Cross requests all participants bring a blood donor card or other form of identification when attempting to donate. Eligible blood donors can call (800) 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and to make an appointment.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.