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Red Cross issues emergency call for blood donors

Southwest

June 25, 2012
 

The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels, with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. This shortfall leaves the Red Cross with half the readily available blood products on hand now than this time last year.

The Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors — now more than ever — to roll up a sleeve and give as soon as possible. All blood types are needed, especially O-positive, O-negative, B-negative and A-negative, to meet patient demand this summer.

An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets. In addition, this year’s mid-week Fourth of July holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.

"Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. In Tulsa, we need those who have appointments already set to definitely come in. Also, the Red Cross hopes for 300 additional units of blood this week and next to help relieve the current shortage," said Steve Nagle, CEO of the Red Cross Southwest Blood Services Region. "In Dallas, we'd like 200 additional units of blood between today and Saturday, July 7. We need donors to make appointments in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure that all patient blood needs can be met. Every pint of blood can help save more than one life."

Blood is needed for those like longtime Tulsan Jack Wing. During his fight with blood cancer, Jack needed multiple blood transfusions. Just last week, Jack reported he received two additional units of O-negative blood to treat low blood counts. Jack said he is grateful to those who donated the blood that saved his life. Similarly, Grand Prairie, Texas, resident Chris was saved by the units of blood he received during a slow recovery. A self-employed horse trainer, Chris was recently seriously injured when a horse he was working with flipped on top of him and pinned him to the pavement.

In the Tulsa area, donations can be made at the Red Cross center at 10151 E. 11th St., and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there is a donation center at 1 Medical Parkway, Suite 215.  Through July 7, the Red Cross has extended fixed site hours to Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and July 4 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The dates, times and locations of open-to-the-public blood drives can be found by entering a ZIP code at www.redcrossblood.org.

Also, as part of the Red Cross Rock and Roll Up Your Sleeve campaign, those who present to donate will receive a rock-‘n’-roll-themed T-shirt and the opportunity to register to win a Gibson guitar, courtesy of the Gibson Foundation.

“There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren’t readily available or, in a worst-case scenario, have to forego a more serious procedure because of a shortage of blood,” Nagle added. “Our goal is to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Unfortunately, patients don’t get a holiday from needing blood products. The need is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. Blood and platelets are needed for many different reasons, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies — when there are complications during childbirth — and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

The Red Cross is reaching out 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 U.S.