The country has been responding to the urgent appeal for blood donors recently issued by the American Red Cross, but that support is now diminishing in spite of the fact that the blood supply has not returned to adequate levels.
Fewer people are making appointments to give blood now than were a week ago. The Red Cross reports the blood supply has not grown back to a sufficient level because the majority of the blood that has been donated since the appeal was issued on July 11 has already been delivered to area hospitals.
“We need those who are able to continue to give until we can build the blood supply back up to a safe and adequate level,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the Red Cross.
At Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., the Department of Anesthesiology is sponsoring a blood drive later this month and encouraging all of its members to participate. “Our department chose to sponsor this blood drive to give back to the Red Cross donor pool, as well as to visibly acknowledge the incredible need for life-saving blood products,” said Warren S. Sandberg, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Anesthesiology. “We are encouraging our own members, as well as everyone who is able, to step up and donate. The Red Cross is facing a critical shortage of blood products, particularly type O negative, and we want to do our part to meet the need in our region.” The medical center is one of 57 hospitals supplied by Red Cross Blood Services, Tennessee Valley Region in Paducah, Ky.
Pam Fagan spotted a billboard about the need for blood donors put up by Red Cross Blood Services, Southwest Region, Tulsa, Okla. She then gave blood for the first time. Pam reported she has received blood and wanted to give to “pay it forward”.
April Morgan is a school nurse from Arkadelphia, Ark., and heard about the need for blood donors during a CPR class at her local Red Cross chapter. She donated blood after the class. April, a mother of two, gave blood for the first time in high school “because it got you out of class.”
Mother and daughter Jennifer Naylor and Calien Whitney of Little Rock, Ark. answered the call for blood donors after hearing about it on the radio and passing a billboard about the blood appeal. Calien first gave blood when she was a nursing student at St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock. She is now an Army National Guard Combat Medic, as is her husband. Her mom, Jennifer, had not given blood in many years. Both gave blood recently in Little Rock. Calien has decided to return to the Red Cross to donate platelets during an apheresis donation and is encouraging her friends to give blood now.
Red Cross staffers are also supporting the appeal for blood donors, giving at blood drives all over the country. In Washington, D.C., Peter Macias, communications director for Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, said he first gave blood on a dare in the early 80’s. “After doing so, I realized that it’s such an easy way to make a difference and I’ve been doing so ever since,” he said. “In the time that it takes to watch the evening local and national news, you can save more than one person’s life. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a huge impact in someone’s life.”
The Red Cross provides blood products to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visitredcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment. To give blood, individuals must be 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and be in generally good health. Those giving blood are asked to bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.