June 17, 2004

Blood Supply Spiraling Toward Empty!

American Red Cross Emergency Appeal for Blood Continues The American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region predicts the Region could be completely out of blood within a week! Based on that information the emergency appeal for blood continues as the Red Cross struggles to make sure blood is available for local hospitals.

“We’ve been treading water, so to speak, over the last week,” said Jenny Foley, Director of Hospital Services for the American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region. “Based on donor traffic across the Region our blood supply doesn’t show any signs of improvement any time in the near future.”

“The first week of the appeal we saw a slight increase in donors,” said Christine Bales, CEO for the Region. “The message is out there – we just need the donors to know how urgent the need is to come out and donate blood this summer. Actually, we cannot wait until later this summer, we need donors to come out today,” adds Bales.

Without a solid increase in donations, patients’ lives may be compromised. Summer is traditionally a challenging time to collect blood, with regular donors on vacation and schools closed. But an increase in outdoor- and travel-related accidents is expected during the warmer months, underscoring the need for an adequate supply of blood.

“Preparing for trauma-related injuries, such as car accidents, weighs heavily on the minds of both hospitals and the Red Cross alike,” said Dr. Brenda Grossman, Medical Director of Transfusion Medicine for Saint Louis University Hospital. “We operate one of the largest trauma centers in the area, and I cannot stress enough the importance of having an adequate supply of blood on hand.”

Type O negative blood is often the hardest hit blood type, since any patient can receive it, making it crucial in trauma situations when there is no time to determine a patient’s blood type. For this very reason, the Red Cross stresses that donors of all types are needed, as it is preferable to give patients their own blood type, which, in turn, lessens the strain on the O negative supply.

A disaster of any kind—whether natural or manmade—signals the need for everyone to be ready. A safe and adequate blood supply is one way to prepare, so that, if blood is needed, it will be available.

The Red Cross asks eligible and first-time donors call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit www.americanredcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near them and to schedule a blood donation appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Eligible donors must be at least 17 years old (16 in Illinois with a signed Red Cross parental consent form), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good, general health the day of donation. Donors can give blood every 56 days, or up to six times a year.

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