Local Red Cross Blood Supply Drops to Critically Low Levels

July 11, 2011

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

ATLANTA – The American Red Cross Southern 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 have seen first-hand how blood transfusions can truly help save lives,” said Dr. Jose Lima, medical director, Southern 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 needed.”

Someone like Brian Boyle, a 25-year-old whose life changed instantly when a dump truck plowed into his vehicle on his way home from swim practice in 2004.  Brian lost 60% of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest and his organs and pelvis were pulverized.  If Brian survived, doctors predicted that he might not be able to walk again and certainly would not swim.  Against all predictions, Brian now competes in marathons and triathlons.

Brian’s story highlights just how important each and every blood donation can be. Because of that, the Red Cross is extending blood drive hours and 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 Southern Blood Services Region provides lifesaving blood to more than 120 hospitals and must have 1,200 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.