Area blood banks are in need of donors

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By SARAH DRURY sdrury@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — The Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Blood Banks (AABB), Amer­ica’s Blood Cen­ters and the Amer­i­can Red Cross are is­su­ing a crit­i­cal ap­peal for blood and platelet donors across the coun­try due to sig­nif­i­cantly low in­ven­tory lev­els.

Cur­rently, all across the na­tion, blood banks are suf­fer­ing from a blood short­age. Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease is­sued by AABB, Amer­ica’s Blood Cen­ters and the Amer­i­can Red Cross, sum­mer is al­ways a chal­leng­ing time for blood cen­ters to en­sure an ad­e­quate blood sup­ply.

“Peo­ple are on va­ca­tions and there are a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties and schools are out,” said Michael Waite, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­nity re­la­tions at the Blood Bank of Del­marva. “Schools are a large per­cent­age of our blood sup­ply.”

Waite also said it comes down to the fact that they don’t have the same ca­pac­ity of donors com­ing through their doors.

All blood types are cur­rently needed, but ac­cord­ing to Waite, the blood type that is al­ways most needed is O Neg­a­tive. Type O Neg­a­tive is the universal type and in a lot of crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions in hos­pi­tals when there is no time to in­put the pa­tient’s blood type, the au­to­matic blood they reach for is O Neg­a­tive. Waite added that one in 15 donors is O Neg­a­tive.

The blood banks are also in need of platelet donors.

“It seems to be con­tin­u­ing to grow where it has been chal­leng­ing in the past, but it seems to be more chal­leng­ing this year and I don’t nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand why,” Waite said. “We are find­ing a lot more short­ages where they have to take in­ven­tory from one hos­pi­tal and trans­fer it to another if they have an im­me­di­ate need rather than hav­ing all the shelves at all the hos­pi­tals full at all times.”

Blood banks also have to be pre­pared for in­ci­dents, such as the June shoot­ing in Or­lando, be­cause their main mission is to pro­vide the blood and blood prod­ucts that the vic­tims need.

A per­son has to be at least 17 years old, weigh a min­i­mum of 110 pounds and be in good health to be­come a blood donor. After ar­riv­ing at the donor cen­ter, the pos­si­ble donors will be asked a se­ries of ques­tions about their travel, med­i­ca­tion and life­style to de­ter­mine any­thing that could taint the blood sup­ply.

“About 35 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion can do­nate blood be­cause they are healthy but about less than 10 per­cent ac­tu­ally give blood,” Waite said.

High school stu­dents and other donors 18 years old and younger also have to meet cer­tain height and weight re­quire­ments.

“Main­tain­ing a safe and ad­e­quate blood sup­ply is crit­i­cal to the na­tion’s pub­lic health and a pri­or­ity for the med­i­cal com­mu­nity,” said Miriam Markowitz, CEO of AABB. “Ev­ery two sec­onds, some­one in the U.S. needs blood. It is in­dis­pens­able and re­quired in the treat­ment of mil­lions of pa­tients, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­u­als with can­cer and other life-threat­en­ing dis­eases, pa­tients un­der­go­ing or­gan trans­plants and trauma vic­tims.”

It is the blood that has al­ready been col­lected, screened and tested that is used dur­ing an emer­gency. The blood banks are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to sched­ule an ap­point­ment to save time rather than walk­ing in the door. Ap­point­ments can be made on­line or on the phone.

“There is no more per­sonal gift you will ever give to another hu­man. You are giv­ing them life, this is lit­er­ally a life sav­ing prod­uct,” Waite said.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to sched­ule an ap­point­ment go to www.aabb.org, www.Amer­i­c­as­Blood.org or call 1-888-872-5663, www. red­cross­blood.org or call 1-800-733-2767. In­for­ma­tion about the Blood Bank of Del­marva can be found at www.Del­mar­vaBlood.org or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8.

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