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Red Cross issues emergency call for blood donors

American Red Cross

Summer vacation has contributed to a shortage of blood donations. The Red Cross recently reported that it is  61,000 units short of  the blood donations required nationally, prompting the organization to issue an emergency call for eligible donors.

The New York and Pennsylvania region is also below its needed amount of blood donations by more than 200 units. Experts say that even though the figure may not seem as urgent as the national shortage, lacking200 units of blood can pose a significant problem in medical emergencies.

“One accident victim can need up to a hundred units of blood,” said Patty Corvaia, regional communications manager for the Red Cross. “So if you could imagine one hundred people standing in line—that’s the number of people that are needed at times to care for just one accident victim.”  

According to the Red Cross, blood and platelets are medically needed every two seconds in the United States. It is also important to keep replenishing the supply, as donations go bad if they are not used.

“Blood is a perishable product. It only is good for 42 days. And platelets, which are used for chemotherapy patients only last five days,” Corvaia said. “That’s why it’s so important that people come in regularly to donate; it’s a perishable product. It’s the blood on the shelves that save lives.” 

Donation center and blood drives see a decline in the number of donors during summer months, causing shortages such as this one.

“Twenty percent of our blood donations come from students—both high school and college. And with schools being out of session, we don’t hold those blood drives in those locations. So we don’t have that direct interaction with those donors,” Corvaia said.

Like many other during the summer, frequent donors also take vacations. This too impacts the number regular blood donations.

In an attempt to combat this shortage, the Red Cross has added 25,000 more appointments at donation centers across the country. Eligible donors can schedule an appointment using the free Blood Donor App, by going online to redcrossblood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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