Critical need for blood donations here

Published 1:26 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jeanie Metzger (foreground) and Susan Russell (background) were among the many who donated blood Monday at the American Red Cross blood drive held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

A Monday drive at Andalusia’s St. Mary’s Episcopal Church netted 24 pints of blood – a much needed donation to help meet the demands, but the push continues for blood donations by the American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.

Last week, the Red Cross sent out a donations plea, and while all types are needed, there is a special need for O Negative and B Negative blood types, said Megan Jefferson, RC donor recruitment accounts manager.

Monday’s drive is the first of many scheduled locally to help meet the need.

Other upcoming blood drives include:

• Fri., Jan. 25, at Cadence Bank in Opp, 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.;

• Wed., Jan. 30, at Andalusia Regional Hospital, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.;

• Sat., Feb. 2, Alabama High School Rodeo Association at the Covington Center Arena, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Patients can’t afford for you or donors to lose interest in the mission of saving lives,” Jefferson said. “Shortages can cause surgeries to be postponed and those who get regular blood products not to receive at normal frequency. Our region supplies approximately 100 hospitals and needs 600 donors each day to meet the demands.”

Jefferson said in December 2011, the Red Cross collected 259 units from donors in Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry and Houston counties. In December 2012, collections dropped to 209 units, she said.

“We have had an extremely rough start to the year,” Jefferson said. “We’ve only collected 50 percent of what we’d scheduled to collect during the first half of the month – that’s 65 units out of 112 to be exact. We really need all donors who are eligible to donate blood as soon as possible especially with the urgent need for O Negative and B Negative so that no other types follow.”

The same need was expressed by those at LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, the group that services area hospitals.

Galen Unold, LifeSouth’s director of donor recruitment and retention, said last week that the winter weather that struck portions of Alabama and Georgia was expected to impact the blood shortage.

“This is coming at a time when supplies were already low because of reduced donations during the winter holidays,” Unold said. “Meanwhile, blood usage at many of our hospitals is far above normal, making the shortage even more serious.”

Unold said for LifeSouth, all blood types are needed, but blood types AB-positive and negative, and O-negative are in shortest supply.

A LifeSouth blood drive will be held on Thurs., Jan. 31, at LBW Community College-Opp community center, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For all donations, donors must be 17 or older, or 16 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is also required.