Red Cross issues emergency call for blood and platelet donors
Blood donations down about 10 percent in June
The American Red Cross has issued an emergency request for blood and platelet donors of all blood types as many fewer donations than expected were received in June and the first week of July.
Nationwide, donations through the Red Cross were down approximately 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,000 fewer donations than expected. The shortfall is similar to what the Red Cross experienced in June 2012.
At the same time, recent patients have needed large amounts of blood. Over the July 4 holiday week, three major traumas caused three patients to need a total of 212 blood products. Another surgery patient needed 78 blood products the same week.
Summer is one of the most challenging periods of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they adjust to summer schedules. High school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of Red Cross donations during the school year. Donations from those who usually give at these drives drop by more than 80 percent when school is out for the summer. In addition, a mid-week Independence Day holiday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Many sponsors, especially businesses, were unable to host drives because employees took extended vacations.
The Red Cross urgently needs donations to ensure an adequate blood supply is available for patients all summer long. Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
Patients like 15-year old Jake Carlino know first-hand the importance of blood donation. He needed many blood products during his treatment of cancer. Blood donors helped save his live, and today he is back to running and being a happy teenager.
To find a blood drive near you, contact the Red Cross at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED CROSS.
Give in honor of people like Jake
Seventh grade is a time for basketball and baseball games, dirt-biking and video games, but Jacob Carlino, had to take a break from those fun activities when he developed a strong pain in his lower back and upper right leg. But with many possible causes, an MRI finally showed a large mass on Jacob’s sacral (hip) bone.
Early test results showed no cancer cells, but after several tissue biopsies the hospital oncologists determined that it was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer that primarily attacks bones and soft tissue. The optimistic news was that the cancer cells had not spread to Jacob’s lungs or bones, but rather contained in the lower hip and upper leg area.
Facing his fear of needles, Jacob’s doctors started a 30-week Chemotherapy regimen less than one week after he was told he has cancer. At the 15-week mark, after several blood and platelet transfusions, the mass had shrunk by 40 percent which meant a choice was to be made: surgery or radiation. Jacob and his family weighed the options — surgery meant a long, painful recovery but radiation could mean a higher recurrence risk and other negative side effects.
With the facts in mind, Jacob chose to face his fear of needles again and proceed with surgery to remove the tumor and half of his sacral bone. He underwent this surgery called a hemipelvectory and his doctor told him he is the youngest patient to ever have this surgery. The six-hour surgery would remove the mass, but Jacob would most likely never be able to run again. Recovery included a lower body brace, no walking for three months and physical therapy to learn how to walk again.
After the surgery, Jacob continued Chemo for 15 more weeks in order to rid him of the cancer. At this point, after more than 40 blood and platelet transfusions, Jacob’s mom couldn’t keep count of how many he had received.
“I can’t imagine what would have happened if the blood wasn’t there – well I can, but I didn’t want to imagine that. Without the blood, Jake wouldn’t be here today,” said Traci, Jacob’s mom.
Today, Jacob is cancer free but will continue to be monitored. His family is thankful for those who donated blood for Jacob and encourage others to give blood because it can make a difference for someone else.