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Local Red Cross Blood Supply Drops to Critically Low Levels

Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region

July 11, 2011
 

Red Cross extends blood drive hours and asks eligible blood donors to make and keep appointments

Philadelphia, July 11, 2011 – The American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region is facing a critical blood shortage and today issued an appeal for blood donors.

Many donors are busy or traveling, school is out of session and donations in May and June dropped to the lowest levels the Red Cross has seen during this timeframe in over a dozen years. Demand for blood remained steady during this same period, which is why the Red Cross needs people—now more than ever—to roll up a sleeve and give as soon as possible. All types are needed, but especially O negative, which can be used to treat any patient.

The Red Cross has responded to more than 40 major disasters in more than 30 states over the past three months alone – delivering help and hope to people affected by floods, tornadoes and wildfires. But there’s another, more personal, kind of disaster which can happen to anyone at any time if blood is needed and it’s not available.

“As a physician, I’ve seen first-hand how blood transfusions can truly save lives,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region.  ”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 it’s needed.”

Judy Mosteller, a loyal American Red Cross blood donor and volunteer was living a normal, healthy life as the TV director for QVC… until, she was diagnosed with fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors on the uterus. Doctors decided to perform a hysterectomy in July 2006 at a local university hospital as her enlarging fibroids were compressing veins, leading to blood clots and had begun pressing on her kidneys, causing them to back up and swell.

Once the surgery was underway, her doctor tried to remove the growths, but with every cut he made, the highly vascular tumors bled excessively.

The procedure had to be stopped before Judy lost too much blood.  By that point, she had used 19 units of blood and required intensive care to recuperate.  It was almost a year later that Judy was ready again for surgery to remove the remaining fibroids.

Judy’s story highlights just how important each and every blood donation can be in supporting lifesaving procedures every day. The American Red Cross is extending blood drive hours and reaching out right now to eligible blood donors, sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients in communities across the United States.

The Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region provides lifesaving blood to approximately 100 area hospitals and must recruit 1,200 blood and platelet donors each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims and patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses rely upon lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or Click Here to find a blood drive and to make an appointment. 

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Please Note: Red Cross representatives are available for interviews with the media.  Please contact the communications representative listed above to arrange interviews or access to blood drives for members of the media.