05/25/04 — Blood supply is at critical level

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Blood supply is at critical level

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 25, 2004 1:57 PM

Blood is desperately needed in Wayne County.

Supplies are at critical levels throughout the nation and Wayne County is down to less than three days' supply, said Don Best, blood services director for the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Best said types O positive, O negative, B positive and B negative are at an emergency level -- less than a one-day supply. B positive and B negative blood is at a critical level -- less than a two-day supply.

"Summer is the time of the year when people are on vacation and not as available to donate blood as they are the rest of the year," Best said. "And they travel more, which means more accidents and more blood that's needed."

People are on the roads more around the summer holidays, which include Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. "With more people on the roads, there are more accidents," he said.

So far Wayne Memorial Hospital hasn't had to cancel any procedures due to the low blood supply. "We've been able to supply them with the blood they've needed," said Best.

Wayne County met its goal at last Friday's blood drive, but it did not make its goal on several other Bloodmobiles held this month.

Best said the goal for blood collections for the year is set in advance by the regional Red Cross office. The chapter schedules enough monthly blood drives each month to try and meet this goal.

"By the time it's May and we're coming up short, everything's already been scheduled for the next four to five months," he said.

Best said businesses or groups may call the chapter to set up blood drives during the summer. But they should call several months in advance.

"They can request a certain month, a certain day of the week and specific hours for the blood drive," said Best. "We try to meet their request as much as possible."

The Red Cross is urging everyone to give blood at one of the upcoming blood drives. "A lot of people say they are afraid of the needle," said Best. "But the needle used is no more than a mosquito bite as far as comfort.

"If you've never donated blood before, you should at least try it once. If it's been a few months or even years since you've given blood, it's time to get started again. It's something that's really needed."

Best stressed that more and more blood is needed each year.

Donors must be at least 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health. Donors can give blood every 56 days. It takes about an hour to go through the entire process of donating blood.

Best noted that giving blood is like having a mini physical. Donors are tested for a variety of conditions.