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American Red Cross urging for blood donations as supplies run low

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 9:11 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Officials with the American Red Cross say they are seeing emergency blood and platelet shortages.

This comes as they say their supplies are at the lowest post-summer levels since 2015.

According to officials, they must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month for the blood supply to recover in order to meet hospital and patient needs.

Ashley Hughes is the District Manager for donor recruitment in southern Indiana.

She says they need donations of all blood types, but especially Type O.

“Right now, we have less than a half-day supply of our O-Type blood,” says Hughes. “We need O-Type blood. Also, our platelets - so our platelets, often times, go to cancer patients that are receiving chemo and radiation, and we are seeing our numbers decline in terms of donor turnout in terms of donating platelets as well.”

Platelet donors are also being asked to make an appointment to overcome the shortage.

In a press release, Red Cross leaders say donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year, as many people delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID cases across the country.

Hughes says coronavirus restrictions in schools are also contributing to the low turnout.

She says blood drives in schools and universities greatly contribute every year. However, because of the pandemic, those drives are not happening this fall.

Even though the pandemic put a halt to many aspects of life, it did not stop the needed transfusions and treatments for critically ill patients.

“Just because COVID happened doesn’t mean there was a stop for the transfusions that they needed,” says Hughes. “Same thing for those facing cancer. So, just because there is something going on in the major world, doesn’t mean that an individual’s treatment can be delayed.”

Hughes says just one blood donation can save up to three lives. She says she decided to become a blood donor after her father was diagnosed with cancer.

“Every two seconds, somebody is needing a blood product across the country,” says Hughes. “If that isn’t enough to motivate people, I don’t know what is, because you never know if it is going to be you needing blood products. If we don’t have them, that is a scary place to be in.”

As cases spiked in August, officials say blood donors went down about 10 percent, but blood distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks.

Find a blood drive near you.

Hughes says she encourages anyone interested in donating blood to make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org. She says the appointments typically take about an hour.

In addition to donating at a Red Cross location, Hughes says there will be a blood drive Thursday, September 30 at Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Evansville.

She says nursing students from the University of Southern Indiana will be at the event. Hughes also says organizers are hoping to make this a sickle cell drive, as she specifically encourages members of the Black community to donate.

As an added bonus, Hughes says the American Red Cross is offering freebies for those who donate, including free t-shirts through Thursday and free food coupons during the month of October.

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