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Blood supply at a critical low in Tri-State area

Since the major blood donors — schools, colleges and universities — are closed or have reduced numbers in the summertime, the American Red Cross is critically short on blood donations.

Without the regular donors, blood levels become very slow.

“We have our ‘clutch’ blood donors and sponsors, those who we regularly rely on to give of themselves to help others in need,” said Jim Starr, CEO, Greater Alleghenies Region, Red Cross Blood Services. “But, there aren’t enough of them to make up for the collections deficit we face each summer.”

Lawrence County is in the Greater Alleghenies Region Chapter out of Pennsylvania that covers 100 counties including the Huntington, W.Va., area, Kentucky and Virginia.

“Usually, we need any negative blood,” said Marilyn Meade, blood services specialist. “The best donor is O negative. They can usually use that on any blood type, positive or negative. O positive can be used on any positive blood type.”

Besides O positive and O negative blood types, A and AB negative blood types are also in critical shortage.

The summer campaign “Join the Race to Save Lives” is encouraging people by presenting donors with a red cooler with shoulder strap, while supplies last, plus they will be automatically entered into a drawing for a gas grill. The winner of the gas grill will be announced Sept. 5.

During the blood drive in August, the Red Cross has planned several activities.

On Thursday, the Red Cross will be at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Proctorville at 627 County Road 411 from 2 to 7 p.m.

Donors will automatically be signed up for drawings on Friday for two $10 Speedway cards.

“On Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Huntington Donor Center, we’re going to have a birthday party for August birthdays,” Meade said. “On that date they are going to have two $10 speedway cards that two lucky donors, too. We’re having a regional ‘Save a Life’ on Aug. 30, with special food and give-aways at the Huntington Donor Center.”

Also, in August, all presenting donors will be automatically entered into a raffle to win two tickets to the 2008 Daytona 500 including hotel and airfare. The winner will be announced on Nov. 5.

Recently, donors rushed to meet the needs of those who were involved in the Minnesota bridge collapse and their families. Because of their quick action, the Red Cross was able to provide a safe place to rest, hot meals, basic first aid and mental health counseling to the survivors of this collapse.

“If there were a need like the collapse of the bridge, we could send blood from each region,” Meade said. “Each region can help each other out if we have an emergency situation. During Katrina, we had a great response from donors.”

The Red Cross has a standard practice of informing the public when sufficient funds have been raised to cover the costs associated with a disaster response. Because of the financial donations and pledges received for the bridge collapse disaster, it is estimated the Red Cross will have enough blood and money to cover the cost for the response.

Because of this, the Red Cross encourages giving to the other charities and non-profit organizations that continue to raise funds for the bridge disaster. The Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is another way for people to help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year.

To find a blood drive nearby, visit www.redcrosslife.org or call (800) GIVE LIFE (448-3543).