Residents are urged to roll up their sleeves and give blood or platelets.
Baltimore, Md (KM). Hurricane Florence has made it difficult for the American Red Cross to collect blood. The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region of the Red Cross says after the storm made landfall, nearly 200 blood drives were canceled. “We have moved to a national blood banking system to where we contribute to the national need as well as take care of patient needs at home,” says Regina Boothe Bratton, a spokeswoman for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region of the Red Cross.
Bratton also says hospitals demanded blood after the mass shooting at the Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen earlier this month which left four people dead, including the shooter.. “So this has been a very trying time over the past couple of weeks,” says Bratton. “But the people of Maryland are rallying together and we are putting out the call. We desperately do need them to roll up their sleeves and donate blood. The need is constant and these incidents have proven how constant it is.”
Despite natural disasters and other emergencies, Bratton says there’s always a need for blood and platelets. “Cancer patients rely on platelets. Platelets enable the blood to clot. Without that clotting mechanism, you could potentially bleed to death,” she says. Other patients who need blood are “babies who are struggling to gain their strength in the NICU unit. In addition to cancer patients, trauma patients who come into the emergency room everyday: they need blood and blood products.”
Bratton says the need is greatest for O-Negative blood. “When an emergency room doctor is treating a trauma patient, they don’t have time to test the blood type so they go to the universal blood type which is O-Negative. So we desperately need O-Negative donors to donate on a regular basis if possible.”
But, she says, all blood types are welcome. “We need a diverse donor pool. Not only with race, but with blood types, with sex, with age. We need a diverse pool of blood,” says Bratton.
Those who want to give blood can go on line to www.RedCrossBlood.org, and make an appointment. They can also call toll free to 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Anyone who wants to make a contribution to the Red Cross to help out with emergencies can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go to www.RedCross.org. They can also text the word FLORENCE to 90999 and make a $10 donation.
By Kevin McManus