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Shortage of blood prompts appeal
Sunday, August 5, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Nationally, American Red Cross blood supplies are at the lowest level in 15 years.
A June appeal for donors helped the decline temporarily, but there continues to be an emergency need for all blood types.
That’s according to Bob Lutjen, manager of communications for the Appalachian Blood Services Region, which serves 46 counties in central and southwestern Virginia and southeastern West Virginia.
A number of blood drives are scheduled locally in August, according to a Red Cross release. Lutjen said summer is a difficult time for blood donations every year. It stems from high schools and colleges, which account for 15-20 percent of donations a year, being out of session. When high schools and colleges are out of session, that leaves a void, which the Red Cross tries to make up with community, business and civic organization blood drives, he said.
Also contributing to the typical blood shortage are people traveling on vacations and doing other summertime activities, he said, adding that they often think taking a break from giving blood is not a big deal. Warm weather and resulting summer activities came earlier this year, which added to the problem, he said.
Another factor contributing to the current blood shortage is that the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday, which hurt blood donations, he said. Some people took the other four days off from work that week to have a vacation, he said.
Also summer storms that left many thousands of customers without power resulted in the loss of about 2,000 pints of blood because blood drives were canceled, plus an undetermined loss of blood donations because people were unable to get to blood donation centers, he said.
“The blood supply is the lowest since 1997 on a national level,” Lutjen said. “Basically there is no reserve. We are going day-to-day meeting the needs of hospitals.”
He said the Red Cross keeps reminding the public that the power outage is over, and if they have taken a vacation, please come to the closest location and donate blood.
“We are collecting about 80 percent of what we are going after, and that’s been going on for four to six weeks,” he said. “That’s a concern.”
“September, we will look dramatically stronger, but we have to get there,” he said. He especially encourages people to donate blood this month.
To encourage blood donations in August, the Red Cross will have a drawing for a $500 gift certificate each week of the month to thank donors. The Red Cross aims for donations of about 300 pints of blood every business day on average.
He also said he feels the poor economy has hurt blood donations. He noted that a number of companies that used to allow employees to donate blood on work time have closed in recent years.
Upcoming blood drives include:
• Saturday, Aug. 4: Stone Memorial Christian Church, Collinsville, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Aug. 6: Hillcrest Baptist Church, Ridgeway, 1-7 p.m.
• Aug. 7: Rotary Field, Stuart, 12:30-6:30 p.m.
• Aug. 8: Community center, Meadows of Dan, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Aug. 9: Liberty Fair Mall Blood Donation Center, Martinsville: noon to 6 p.m.
• Aug. 11: Galilean House of Worship, Martinsville, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Aug. 14: First Baptist Church, Ridgeway, 1-7 p.m.
• Aug. 16: Liberty Fair Mall Blood Donation Center, Martinsville: noon-6 p.m.
• Aug. 17: Martinsville Masonic Lodge, Martinsville, noon-5 p.m.
• Aug. 23: Liberty Fair Mall Blood Donation Center, Martinsville, noon-6 p.m.
• Aug. 30: Liberty Fair Mall Blood Donation Center, Martinsville, noon-6 p.m.