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Friday, October 31, 2014

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Need is urgent for blood donations

Published 10:16 am, Sunday, July 27, 2014
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The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to give.

Donations through the Red Cross are down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected. The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks, according to the organization.

In addition, the fact that the Independence Day holiday fell on a Friday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week. In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week, when only 3,450 drives occurred.

"Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they're relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead," Jeff Meyer, CEO of the Red Cross Massachusetts and Connecticut blood services regions, said in a release. "Please consider giving the gift of life. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need -- and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood."

Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.

There is also a need for platelet donations. Platelets -- a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients -- must be transfused within five days of donation, so it's important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.

Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

To donate, call 800-733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org.