American Red Cross reports blood supply dangerously low

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The local Red Cross' blood supply is dangerously low, and the chapter is issuing an emergency appeal to donors.

Blood inventories at the American Red Cross of the Greater Alleghenies Region that serves Lawrence County are so low that hospital orders are being scaled back, Cheryl Gergely, communications supervisor for the Tri-State Division, said.

In a recent press release, Thomas Lightfoot, M.D., medical officer for the region, said the Red Cross is only able to supply 70 percent of what hospitals are requesting.

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The Red Cross only has a one-day supply of Type O negative blood, and a five-day supply is needed. People with this blood type are considered universal donors, and anyone can receive O negative blood in an emergency situation when there is no time to test or type a patient's blood. Anyone with a positive blood type can receive O positive, also in short supply.

The Red Cross is also in critical need of A negative, AB negative and B positive types. However, all blood types are needed, Gergely said. Overall, the Red Cross only has a two-day supply of all blood types, she said.

Donations are down this time of year because high school and college students, who are normally regular donors at Red Cross functions, are out of school for the summer, Gergely said. However, even as people are occupied with other activities such as spending time outdoors, the same amount of blood is still needed, she said.

"This is (the public's) blood supply, not the Red Cross' or the hospitals'. People need blood," Gergely said.

During the summertime, people are not only having surgeries or giving birth - occasions during which blood is often needed - but they are also participating in more outdoor activities, and getting involved in more accidents, she said.

Historically, statistics show that the current situation may worsen before the end of summer, according to a release from the Red Cross. The organization typically experiences a summer slump in blood collections, but this year, the decrease has come before the official start of summer.

To donate blood, a person must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 105 pounds and be in generally good health. Most people can donate blood every 56 days.

Locations of local blood drives can be found at or by calling 1-800-GIVE LIFE. From noon to 6 p.m. blood donations are taken at the King's Daughters Medical Center's Sleep Medicine Center at 2245 Winchester Ave. in Ashland, Ky. or at the Red Cross's Huntington, W.Va., donation center at 1111 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Those hours are 2:30-6:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays until August. The donation center will be closed Monday, June 16.