Local Red Cross Blood Supply Remains At Seriously Low Levels

July 26, 2011

Red Cross reminds eligible blood donors to make and keep appointments

Roanoke, VA.  July 25, 2011 – American Red Cross blood supplies remain at seriously low levels even after hundreds of area residents responded to the national appeal for blood donors. Blood products are going out to area hospitals just as quickly as donations are coming in, the Red Cross said today.

In addition, the massive heat wave encompassing much of the country is hurting blood collections at a time when the Red Cross has been working to rebuild its inventories to adequate levels. The high temperatures have made it extremely difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of donors to go out and give blood. During the heat wave there may be an even bigger decline in the number of blood donors than in a typical summer.

While the heat is unlikely to change the amount of blood needed each day, the challenge is that the weather is too hot to encourage people to leave their air conditioned homes and businesses to donate blood.

“The Red Cross is grateful to everyone who has come forward to give blood in response to this appeal, but we still need donors to make appointments in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure that all patient blood needs can be met,” said Dave Smith, Director of Donor Recruitment.

“We carefully monitor blood supplies, sometimes on an hourly basis, in the hope that there will never be a point where surgeries need to be cancelled,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Chief Medical Director, Heritage Division. “However, there is always the chance that a physician could opt to postpone elective surgery when the blood supply dips too low, or in a worst case scenario, have to forego a procedure such as a lifesaving organ transplant because of a shortage of blood.”

The Red Cross has added blood drives in some areas and 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 United States.

The Red Cross Appalachian Blood Services Region provides lifesaving blood to 37 hospitals and must have 320 people give blood and 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.

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 visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and to make an appointment. 

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.