Blood supplies critically low; Red Cross appeals to donors

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

The Carolinas Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross notified the public two weeks ago that the area's blood supply was critically low. Since that time, some blood donors have responded to the need, but more donors are needed.
Sherrie Greenwell, blood recruitment director for the Johnson City office, said the long July 4th holiday weekend has depleted the current supply to between a one and two-day supply of most blood types. "Although the most critical need is for types O and B, all blood types are needed," Greenwell said.
Going into the Independence Day holiday weekend, blood supplies were at their lowest point in several months -- the American Red Cross had only about two days of all blood types available -- and inventory had fallen even lower with the small number of donations given over the holiday weekend. "Many of the nation's blood banks are suffering from low supplies as normal donors vacation this summer. Nearly all of the 36 Blood Services regions of the Red Cross have been asking for donations in their local communities in recent weeks," Greenwell said. "Despite these efforts, an urgent need for all blood types remain."
Greenwell said the fact that all blood organizations are joining in issuing this message underscores the importance of this matter. "We're asking eligible donors to schedule appointments to donate blood this summer," she said.
To donate blood, one must be healthy, at least 17 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more.
"The summer months are traditionally a challenging time for blood centers. During the school year, donations from high school and college students account for approximately 15 percent of Red Cross blood collections. In the summer, these groups become much more difficult to collect from, even while the need for blood continues," Greenwell explained.
"Right now, patients in hospitals across the country are helpless without the critical and immediate gift of lifesaving blood," said Greenwell. "Blood needs to be on the shelves in anticipation of this need, and we can't do that without the donors coming in the door. Blood is something you cannot manufacture or buy. People are the only source of blood."
Volunteer blood donations help patients being treated for accidents, routine surgeries and serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and hemophilia. Giving blood is easy, safe and takes less than one hour, but only about five percent of the estimated 60 percent of eligible Americans donate blood.
Blood drives were conducted Thursday at the Elizabethton First Baptist Church and Trinity United Methodist Church in Greeneville.
Blood will be collected Saturday at the Johnson City Blood Center from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and at Bear & Friends Toy Shoppe in Johnson City from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Local donors may call 928-7541 or 1-800-GIVE LIFE for more information or to schedule an appointment.