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Red Cross calls for increased blood donations

By Staff | Jan 6, 2017

The American Red Cross is reporting that their need for donors of blood and platelets is nearing emergency status. According to their website, there is a currently a critical shortage of blood.

That shortage is not currently facing local hospitals, according to Teresa McCabe, vice president Marketing & Development for University Healthcare.

“At both Berkeley Medical Center and Jefferson Medical Center, we are okay, blood supply wise, except for our struggle to keep an adequate supply of O negative blood,” McCabe said this week.

“All of the nation’s healthcare facilities have that struggle,” she said.

McCabe went on to say that while University Healthcare currently relies on the American Red Cross for blood supplies, that will change in the coming year.

“Our entire WVU Medicine system is moving to ITxM/Virginia Blood Services in 2017,” McCabe said.

McCabe did not have further details on the timing or the reason for the change to the Virginia Blood Services. She indicated that more information will be shared with the public in the coming days or weeks.

Currently, the Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

In order to donate, a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a home or work computer prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Upcoming donation opportunities are available in the local region and include Jan. 12 at Fellowship Bible Church, 160 Daniel Road, Shenandoah Junction. The drive runs from 1:30 to 7 p.m.

On Jan. 19 the VFW located at 425 S. Buckmarsh Street in Berryville, Virginia will sponsor a drive from noon to 5:30 p.m.

Another drive will be held at the Winchester Blood Donation Center at 561 Fortress Drive, Winchester, Virginia.

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule a donation at any of these drives.