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Emergency call for blood donors

American Red Cross

It is not just the usual summer lull. The Red Cross says it has seen 39,000 fewer donations in just the past month and it has issued an emergency call for blood and platelets of all types.
Although incidents such as the Orlando shootings brought out donors, most blood stays in the community where it is donated.

"People saw these lines of all those people donating in Orlando and across the country, so they may get the perception of 'well, why is there an emergency need now,''' said Patty Corvaia, biomedical spokesperson for the New York-Pennsylvania region.  "But people may not know that blood is a perishable product. The blood on the shelves only has a shelf life of 42 days and platelets only have a shelf life of five. That adds to the constant need."

In addition, she said, human blood cannot be manufactured, so there is no substitute.

"In the New York-Pennsylvania region, we require about 1,000 units of blood every day in order to meet the needs of 187 hospitals in the region," said Corvaia.

She said one unit of blood typically saves up to 3 lives. However, one accident victim can easily need 100 units.

"One hundred people lined up, standing in line to donate blood. That's how many people need to be in that line in order to save one accident victim potentially," she said. "All types are needed, but if you have O-negative blood, we really hope to see you in these weeks."

O-negative blood is a kind of universal donor. Corvaia said it is what hospitals reach for when they do not know a person's blood type. if you do not know your type, she said your blood will be typed when you give.

"The other thing is that we have a blood donor app that you can download for free," said Corvaia. "If you make your appointments on there, it will store all your donations, it'll store your blood type so you have it on hand and then it also gives you your blood journey so you can track after your donation when it got tested - every single step of your blood donation all the way to the hospital, which is pretty cool."

Anyone who donates at the Cornerstone Arena in Lockport Tuesday will receive a free pizza and Red Cross lunch tote. On Saturday, donors at the Tonawanda Mid-City Plaza will receive a free breakfast sandwich and a four-pack to Holland Speedway as an additional thank you.

To find the closest blood drive near you, enter your zip code online at redcrossblood.org.