Blood supplies short, donations needed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blood donations are down 15 percent in the nation, and the public’s help is needed to ensure the demand for blood products is met.

The winter season is one of the most difficult times for the Red Cross to collect enough blood to meet patient needs, according to American Red Cross External Communications Manager Krystal Overmyer.

“Donations across the country are down about 15 percent this January from what the Red Cross needs to maintain a sufficient supply of blood and platelets,” Overmyer said. “We attribute the decrease to the fact that many parts of the country are experiencing winter weather and seasonal flu epidemics.”

Flu-like symptoms prevent regular blood and platelet donors from keeping their appointments, because only healthy, eligible donors can give blood.

“If you’re feeling ill before your donation, please ask friends or family members to give blood in your place,” Overmyer said.

One staff member from Andalusia Regional Hospital was unable to donate blood at a Red Cross Blood Drive Tuesday because of a low fever, likely caused by the flu shot he said he recently received.

ARH staff members know first hand the need for blood donations, and many staff members made their way to the blood mobile to help fill that need.

The goal for Tuesday’s blood drive was 15 pints, and ARH Director of Surgery Donna Grissett, and ER Director Amy Herrington, were among those who donated.

“We know how often we use blood, so we wanted to make sure it’s available when we need it,” Herrington said.

Grissett said she donates regularly because of the need for her uncommon blood type, B-negative.

“Blood donors with all blood types, particularly O-negative, A-negative and B-negative, and platelet donors are urged to make a donation appointment,” Overmyer said. “Type O-negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Types A- and B-negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.”

The Red Cross urges healthy, eligible donors to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days and weeks.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter.

“We strongly encourage donors in unaffected weather areas to make and keep blood donation appointments, to help support the blood supply locally and across the country,” Overmyer said. “Though winter weather may affect donations, hospital patients still need transfusions of blood and platelets. The Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood each day in order to keep up with demand.”