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Thomas Dawson of Goldsboro gives blood at a blood drive in May. The American Red Cross is experiencing its worst blood shortage in six years.

The American Red Cross is facing its worst blood shortage in six years and asks people to step up and donate to help save lives.

The organization must collect 10,000 additional blood and platelet products nationwide each week over the next month to recover from the shortage and meet the needs of hospitals and patients, said Cally Edwards, Red Cross regional communications director.

Edwards said a 10% decrease in donor turnout since August is fueling the shortage. That’s due to the spike in COVID-19 cases as variants began turning up.

She said donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many people delayed giving blood as they returned to work and students returned to school.

Edwards said the decrease in donations is alarming because fall is typically a time when the blood supply is replenished from summer blood shortages.

“Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds as donors are more available to give than during the busy summer months, but this year has presented a unique and serious challenge,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the Red Cross.

“While it’s clear the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our minds, the Red Cross asks the public to remember donating blood and platelets is essential to the many patients that rely on lifesaving transfusions every day.”

Edwards said patients have depended on blood products for cancer treatments, medical emergencies and chronic blood conditions throughout the pandemic, and they continue to depend on blood and platelet donors now.

If there’s not an increase in blood donations, physicians may have to postpone an elective surgery, Edwards said.

“In a worst-case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood,” she said.

Donors of all blood types, as well as platelets, are needed now. And that especially is true of type O donors. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be given to anyone who needs blood, regardless of their blood type.

To give blood and platelets, make an appointment with the Red Cross by calling 800-733-2767 or go to redcrossblood.org.

To thank those who roll up their sleeves during October, the Red Cross is providing a free Zaxby’s signature sandwich or a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.

Red Cross blood drives scheduled in Wayne County in October and November include:

• Goldsboro Board of Realtors, 1108 E. Ash St., on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• Wayne County Chapter of the Red Cross, 600 N. George St., on Oct. 12 from 1 to 6 p.m.

• Southern Wayne High School, 124 Walter Fulcher Road, Dudley, on Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• Stoney Creek Church, 752 Stoney Creek Road, on Oct. 22 from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

• Berkeley Mall, on Oct. 29 from noon to 4:30 p.m.

• JMA Placement Inc., 401 N. Spence Ave., on Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Grace Community Church, 162 Lake Wackena Road, on Nov. 5 from noon to 5 p.m.

• Red Cross Chapter house, 600 N. George St., on Nov. 9 from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

• Goldsboro High School, 901 E. Beech St., on Nov. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Elks Lodge, 105 E. Chestnut, on Nov. 11 from noon to 4:30 p.m.

• Pike’s Crossroad Pentecostal Church, 2494 Pikeville-Princeton Road, Pikeville, on Nov. 19 from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

• Meadow Lane Elementary School, 3500 E. Ash St., on Nov. 22 from 2 to 6:30 p.m

• LaGrange Community Center, 410 E. Washington St., LaGrange, on Nov. 22 from 2 to 6 p.m.

• Deacon Jones Ford Lincoln, 3301 McLain St., on Nov. 26 from 10 a.m to 2:30 p.m.

For more information about a blood drive or to sponsor one, call the local American Red Cross chapter at 919-735-7201.