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Red Cross Blood Supply Drops to Critically Low Levels

Central Plains Blood Services Region

July 28, 2011
 

Media Contact: Jennifer L. Keller - (316) 268-0853 / Cell: (316) 558-2428
E-Contact Info: kellerje@usa.redcross.org / http://twitter.com/redcrosskansas
Websites: www.redcrossblood.org and www.redcrossracing.com

Wichita, Kan. – July 28, 2011– The American Red Cross has issued an appeal for blood donors to roll up a sleeve and address a critical shortage across the nation.

Many donors are busy or traveling, school is out of session and donations have dropped dramatically. In May and June, while demand for blood products remained steady, donations were at the lowest level the Red Cross has seen during this timeframe in over a dozen years. Because of that, the Red Cross needs blood donors now more than ever. All types are needed, but especially O negative, which can be used to treat any patient.

“As a physician, I have seen first-hand how blood transfusions can truly help save lives,” said Mei-chien Fucci, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Southwest & Central Plains Regions. ”However, a critical blood shortage like the one we’re experiencing right now could have a devastating effect on a patient whose survival may depend on blood being there when needed.”

A Parent’s Perspective:
Wichitan Doug Hodgens now knows the importance of blood. This week, his 9-year-old daughter Mikala is back in the hospital battling Leukemia. Her immune system is very weak and she is using platelets, a part of blood that helps with clotting. “Saturday, Mikala needed platelets and Red Cross had to bring them in from out of town,” said Hodgens. “My wife and I have been working hard to tell all our friends and family about the need for blood and platelets. I’m going to come donate blood on Friday because I know how much it is needed for children just like my daughter.”

Mikala's story highlights just how important each and every blood donation can be. In fact, the Red Cross provides lifesaving blood to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Central Plains Region provides lifesaving blood to more than 100 hospitals throughout Kansas and Northern Oklahoma and must have 500 people give blood and 40 people give platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

Locally, people may give blood at the Wichita Blood Donor Center at 707 N. Main. The Center is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Fridays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donors in Wichita should also consider giving at the Northwest Center at 8414 W. 13th St. North (across from Northwest High School). The Northwest Center will be open Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Aug. 15 from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

As an extra incentive this summer, anyone who presents to donate blood with the Red Cross between July 1 and Sept. 1, 2011 is automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a $250 gas card. During Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2 – Sept. 7), anyone presenting to donate blood is automatically entered into a drawing for a $1,000 gas card.

How to Donate Blood:
Call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org for more information or to make an appointment to donate whole blood. Walk-ins are also welcome. All blood types are needed to ensure the Red Cross maintains an adequate blood supply. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors must be in general good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old (16 in Kansas with completed Parental Consent Form). New height and weight restrictions apply to donors 18 and younger. People interested in donating platelets should call (316) 268-0875.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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