It’s urging as many people as possible to roll up their sleeves.
Baltimore, Md (KM). The American Red Cross is asking for more volunteers to roll up their sleeves. “We’re facing a critical blood shortage, and we have issued an emergency call for eligible donors and platelet donors of all blood types,” says Regina Bratton, a spokeswoman for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region of the Red Cross, which serves Washington DC, Maryland, northern Virginia, and York and Adams Counties in Pennsylvania.
Bratton says blood donations usually fall off during the summer as more donors take vacations, and schools, where a lot blood drives take place, are closed until September. That’s usually when the need for blood increases. “We’ve had a series if tragic events happening in the Northeast area that we’ve had to respond to,” she says. “We like to keep a five-day supply on hand at all times, and we just don’t have that five-day supply.”
In addition car crashes and injuries, Bratton says blood is needed for other patients such as those with cancer and sickle cell anemia, and individuals who need transfusions every week. “Blood is perishable. There’s a shelf life. So it’s not like we can just keep blood indefinitely. Platelets, for example, once they’re donated, platelets are distributed to hospitals within five days. So we need to keep a constant stream of donors coming in to donate,” she says.
The Red Cross says O-Negative blood type is especially needed. “The reason that’s so sought after is because that’s the universal donor. So in an emergency situation, if there’s a patient in an emergency room , and the doctor doesn’t have time to test their blood type, he or she can reach for O-Negative because that’s the universal blood type. But all blood types are needed,” says Bratton.
Anyone who weighs at least 100-pounds and is in good health can donate blood. To set up an appointment, call 1-800-Red-Cross (733-2767), or go on line to www.redcrossblood.org.
By Kevin McManus