The American Red Cross – It’s Never Too Late To Give
In an urgent need for blood donations, the American Red Cross is planning to host several blood drives in the coming weeks. Red Cross officials say donated blood is being shipped and used as fast as it is being gathered.
“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging,” said Nick Gehrig, the communications director of Red Cross Blood Services.
Sean Inoue, a Senior Account Manager with American Red Cross Blood Services said the summer is often a hard time for donations in Southern California. He said the local supply is dependent on student donors from high schools and colleges. The organization said they received about 61,000 fewer blood donations than needed in May and June, prompting an emergency call for donations in July. The amount blood donations are presently running at an all time low.
Officials with the American Red Cross said they are battling a nationwide blood shortage and have sent out urgent calls by phone, mail, and social media in recent weeks for much-needed donations in a “blood emergency.” The organization's main challenge is that donations slow down in the summer, especially during the holidays like the Fourth of July. It’s also more difficult to find public spaces to hold drives when schools are closed.
Since the Red Cross making the initial call for donations early in the summer of 2017, Kelly Isenor, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said the organization has seen a 30 percent increase in appointments through mid-July across the country. However, more donations are needed because blood is being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in. The Red Cross has added extra staff at drives to meet the need, she said.
Federica Brecha, Communications Coordinator for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, confirmed that the need for volunteers is endless and that there is always a great need for blood donations. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated during local and worldwide disasters when alerted, such as during the cases of Hurricane Irma, Harvey and Maria. The American Red Cross Los Angeles Region also mobilizes blood from and to different areas across the United States and provides case work nationwide when tragedy arises.
Nationwide, Isenor said the American Red Cross collects 14,000 units of blood every day. That’s the number they must collect to service patients at 2,600 hospitals nationwide. Once a blood packet is received, the donation is tested in a lab and divided into three essential components: red blood cells, which can be used in transfusions; platelets, which are beneficial for clotting; and plasma, which has a variety of uses, including in cancer treatments. Platelet donations take longer than a regular blood donation. Platelets are a component of the complete blood count (CBC) along with white blood cell and red blood cell counts. One platelet donation can provide as many platelets as 12 to 18 whole blood donations. This helps keep a person with cancer and a weakened immune system from being exposed to many donors and must be done at one of the Red Cross’ permanent donor locations. More information can be found online at RedCrossBlood.org.