July 20, 2011
Red Cross: Blood supply at critically low level
It’s at the lowest point in over 12 years as organization urges donations
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Red Cross mobile unit nurse Lisa Scull, left, prepares to draw blood in January from SUNY Cortland student Curtis Arena during a Red Cross blood drive at Corey Union.
Critically low blood supplies on hand at the American Red Cross this summer are prompting the organization to aggressively seek blood donors in the community.
The blood supply is at its lowest level in over 12 years, said Red Cross spokeswoman Jecoliah Ellis.
Ellis said that blood supplies often dip during summer months as donors vacation and travel. This year the supply started to drop in May and June, earlier than usual, she said.
In addition, the supply was hit especially hard because of the number of natural disasters the Red Cross responded to, Ellis said.
The Red Cross responded to 40 major disasters in 30 states in the past three months.
“The trend began earlier and with the disasters the demand for blood product remained steady. It was a perfect storm,” Ellis said.
Ellis urges repeat donors to return and first-time donors to come forward.
The main reason people give for not donating blood is that they were not asked, Ellis said.
“So folks in the Cortland community can consider themselves asked,” she said.
All donors are sought but those with Type-O negative blood are in particularly high demand because that blood type can be given to anyone since it is the universal donor.
People should make sure they are well hydrated in the days leading up to the donation and be sure to eat a healthy meal the night before.
Iron rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables and red meat, will be particularly helpful, she said.
Ellis said blood has a shelf life of 42 days while platelets only have a shelf life of five days.
“If the blood on the shelf today is used to help save lives tomorrow, we need people to come out in case disaster strikes or in case someone in the community or someone in your family needs blood,” Ellis said.
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