A shortfall in blood donations throughout the country, which prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call to donors last week, has taken another hit.
The American Red Cross announced Tuesday that despite a national appeal for donations, blood collections are still lacking as a result of severe storms in several parts of the United States.
“Storms in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions may severely impact the ability to build the blood inventory back up to sufficient levels in many locations,” the Red Cross announced in a news release. “Power outages, fallen trees and other storm impacts mean that blood donors have been unable to get to blood donation centers and blood drives. Dozens of Red Cross blood drives have been canceled, resulting in the shortfall of nearly 1,700 units of blood and platelets.”
The storms disrupted collections at the worst possible time, said Nancy Martin, the senior account manager for American Red Cross Blood Services’ Southern Region — when supplies regularly fall short because donations take a back seat to summer vacations, and few drives are hosted by schools or businesses.
“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.”
Officials with the Red Cross say warm weather and an early start to spring may have contributed to supplies declining so soon in the summer.
Martin said all blood types are currently needed, particularly O-positive, O-negative, B-negative and A-negative, to meet patient demand during the next few months.
“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 American Red Cross 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.”
Thousands of blood donations are needed each day to meet the needs of hospital patients, according to the American Red Cross. Blood and platelets are needed for several reasons, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies – when there are complications during childbirth – and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
This month, the American Red Cross has scheduled several local events for donors to contribute.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.