06/28/04 — Red Cross appeals for blood donors

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Red Cross appeals for blood donors

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 28, 2004 1:58 PM

With blood supplies critically low, the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross has issued an urgent appeal for donors.

"With the summer barely under way, the blood supply throughout the region has dipped to alarming levels," said Don Best, blood services director. "Available blood of all types is low, but types O and B have fallen to below a one-day supply."

Best said that such a low supply is dangerous for the community. "There are people who depend on blood for their survival every day," he said.

"There are hundreds of sickle cell patients, people battling cancer and people recovering from surgery who depend on the generosity of blood and platelet donors. The increase in accident victims and other emergencies causes an additional need for blood."

According to Best, the summer months are typically challenging, but blood donations have been close to 10 percent below normal this year. "We have not been making our goals at recent blood drives," he said. "We've been short at all we've had this month."

He said that so far the hospital hasn't had to cancel any elective surgeries due to the low blood supplies, "but we are at a critical low point and need to have donors come in."

Best said the decrease in donations can be attributed to several factors, one of which is the affect of the economy on businesses that hold blood drives, which has resulted in smaller drives and some drives being canceled.

Other factors include unusual weather that changes donors' schedules and additional blood donor eligibility criteria. Within the past few months, according to Best, the Red Cross has implemented new screening questions related to West Nile Virus.

Also during the summer months, many people are on vacation or busy. "But if they could just make it a point to get to a blood drive, we would certainly appreciate it very much," Best said.

Donors must be at least 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.The donation process takes about an hour. Donors must present a blood donor card, a government-issued identification card (military i.d. or driver's license) or an employer-issued photo i.d. badge.

Following are upcoming blood drives:

*Thursday -- Eureka United Methodist Church from 2:30 to 7 p.m.

*Saturday -- Berkeley Mall from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Anyone wanting to sponsor a blood drive should call the chapter at 735-7201. Donors may get information on the donation process by logging onto www.redcrossblood.org.