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Blood Shortage has Local Red Cross Asking for Help

HUNTINGTON, W.

Friday, June 08, 2001

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Extremely low levels of blood supply locally and throughout the country has caused the American Red Cross to increase its efforts to encourage people to donate.

Over the past few days, the local supply has dropped as low as one unit of O negative and a total lack of O positive, the Red Cross announced Wednesday.

The Tri-State Division of the Red Cross usually needs 250 units of blood daily to supply the 30 hospitals in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia that depend on it, Jania Michael, blood services coordinator for the Western West Virginia chapter, said.

The Red Cross has not had to turn down any hospital’s requests yet, but steps must be taken to assure that this will not happen.

This organization usually tries to keep a three-day supply of all blood types on hand, Michael said, but there has been less than a one-day supply for several days.

The local situation is a reflection of what is happening across the country.

On a national level, the Red Cross has resorted to advertising and direct mailing to past donors to solicit blood donations. Locally, the Red Cross has bought television advertising to reach out to potential donors, Michael said.

A blood drive was held Wednesday at Marshall University. Twenty-five to 30 units of productive blood were collected there, but the need for donations still exists.

It is important that the problem is remedied due to the large number of hospitals that depend on this organization.

"The Red Cross provides half the nation’s blood supply," Michael said.

For the 30 hospitals in the region that it serves, the Red Cross is basically their only source for blood, she added.

The Red Cross is a major resource for the medical community because of its strict regulations. Michael said the organization produces the safest blood available.

All blood types can be used, she said, adding that the supply of O negative, O positive, A negative and A positive are particularly low.

The O negative supply is especially important because it is the universal blood, meaning all people can receive it. Additionally, the 38 percent of the population with O negative blood can only receive this type.

Michael said the Red Cross is thankful to all donors who have already given blood, especially first time donors. One unit of blood can help save up to three people, she said.

Blood transfusions are often necessary for those undergoing surgery, premature newborns, leukemia, patients with sickle cell disease and accident victims.