Blood drought: Supplies criticaly low

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blood supplies are reaching a critical level; however, American Red Cross officials are hoping a string of upcoming drives will help to avoid issuing an appeal.

Megan Jefferson, donor recruitment accounts manager, said three drives will be held in Covington County in the coming weeks, including:

• Thurs., June 20: Florala Health and Rehab from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

• Sat., June 29: Covington Sportsman Expo on the Bloodmobile from noon until 5 p.m.

• Thurs., July 18: First Baptist Church Andalusia from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.

She said since the beginning of the year, 420 units of blood were donated at area drives.

“Those collections helped to save 1,260 lives,” Jefferson said. “One unit helps three people. During that time, we had 548 units scheduled for use in the county – meaning we’re off by 128 units. It’s like that all over the state, which goes to show how donations are greatly needed.”

Jefferson said to meet the increasing demand, Red Cross officials are meeting this week to schedule additional drives.

“We want to make sure everyone in the community has a chance to donate,” she said. “There hasn’t been an alert issued yet, and we hope to avoid it, but donations are needed – especially O-negative and B-negative.”

Jefferson said the Red Cross supplies blood to the Andalusia and Florala hospitals.

“Patients can’t afford for you or donors to lose interest in the mission of saving lives,” she said. “Shortages can cause surgeries to be postponed and those who get regular blood products not to receive at normal frequency.

“We try to keep the need for donations in everyone’s mind because that need doesn’t go on vacation,” she said.

To give blood, you must weigh at least 110 pounds; you must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental consent), and you must be in general good health. If you are sick and cannot donate, please recruit a friend or family member to give in your place. All donors must have a photo ID or American Red Cross donor card.

If you plan on giving blood:

• double your fluid intake in the 48 hours leading up to the drive.

• eat a nutritious meal the night before, as well as the day of, the blood drive.

• eat iron-rich foods such as lean beef, broccoli, eggs, greens, shrimp or dried beans.

• consume foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, cabbage, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

• get a good night’s sleep before the drive.

The American Red Cross Blood Services, Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region, which supplies blood to approximately 100 hospitals, needs 600 blood donors each day to meet the needs of patients in the region.