Summer blood donations encouraged to keep pace with blood needs
Red Cross says there is an urgent need for platelets and specific blood types
While thousands of people have responded to the recent emergency call for blood and platelet donations from the American Red Cross, there remains an urgent need for platelet donors, as well as donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood. Right now blood products are being distributed to area hospitals almost as quickly as donations are coming in.
“We are grateful to the donors who have rolled up a sleeve to give blood or platelets to the Red Cross in the last couple of weeks, but our work is not over,” said John Hagins, CEO for the Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region. “The need for blood is constant. As July comes to a close and August begins, we ask eligible donors to please give blood or platelets as soon as possible.”
The Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood donations on July 9 after seeing about 50,000 fewer blood and platelet donations than expected in June. Donations have increased by about 15 percent since the emergency call for donors was issued, but the middle and end of July mark only the halfway point to the challenging summer months.
“The summer is historically one of the most difficult times of year for blood and platelet donations,” said Hagins. “Many donors are still enjoying summer activities, but patients are unable to take a vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions.”
Blood and platelets are needed for many reasons. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients and organ transplant patients, as well as those receiving treatment for cancer or sickle cell disease, may depend on lifesaving transfusions. Each day, the Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region needs approximately 700 donors to step forward and give blood. Blood and platelets can only come from generous volunteer donors.
Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give double red cells where available. Type O negative blood is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative blood can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients - must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand. To schedule an appointment to donate platelets at the Greater Alleghenies Region’s platelet donation centers in Altoona, Beaver, Greensburg, Johnstown and State College, Pa., please call 1-800-542-5663, ext. 2633, 2637 or 2657.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or click to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.