Officials with the American Red Cross have issued an emergency appeal for blood donors due to a nationwide blood shortage.
According to Cheryl Gergely, communications manager with the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross, collections nationwide in June were 50,000 units under what the agency had expected to collect.
As a result she said the emergency appeal was issued the last week of June.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Brandie Knotts, a charge nurse with the American Red Cross, prepares to draw blood from Parkersburg resident Rod Marcinko at the agency’s donor center in Parkersburg Wednesday. There is a nationwide blood shortage that has prompted officials with the American Red Cross to issue an emergency appeal for blood donors.
"We need a five-day supply at all times for all blood types and currently we are at a one-day supply or less for six out of our eight blood types," Gergely said. "It's not just going to take a few days to get out of this situation. We need strong blood collections over the next several weeks to help pull us out of this situation."
Gergely said there are a few reasons why there is a blood shortage, including the fact that it's been so hot outside people don't want to leave their homes.
"High school and college age students are 30 percent of our annual donors so we don't have them during the summer to depend upon," she added.
American Red Cross blood drives:
- 1 to 6 p.m. Monday, First Baptist Church, 431 Highland Ave., Williamstown.
- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Washington State Community College, 710 Colegate Drive, Marietta.
- Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Masonic Lodge, 1411 Putnam Howe Drive, Belpre.
- Noon to 5 p.m. July 13, Walmart, 804 Pike St., Marietta.
MMH blood mobile stops:
- Noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Kardex building, Reno.
- 3 to 7 p.m. July 17, St. Mary's Catholic Church, 506 Fourth St., Marietta.
- 5 to 8 p.m. July 18, Marietta First Church of the Nazarene, 100 Millcreek Drive, Marietta.
- Call 374-1432 to schedule an appointment to give blood outside the above dates and times.
The shortage is having an impact locally, according to Sheri Schwartz, executive director of the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
"We are in critical need of blood and would hate for it to be your relative or you yourself and not have enough blood to go around," Schwartz said. "There are usually more trauma accidents in the summer months versus medical calls. It's because people are out more, they're doing more things like working on farm equipment, riding ATVs, camping...when you're outside more you're more likely to have a trauma accident so this is a time where they really need blood."
The Memorial Health System is also experiencing a shortage, according to Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations.
"We're always in need of blood. We're certainly low at this point (but) we're not at a critical state," she said. "The benefit of our health system having a blood bank is we don't rely on the American Red Cross on a regular basis...we do use them occasionally."
Gergely said while the American Red Cross is not the primary supplier of blood for the Memorial Health System, the agency is the primary supplier of blood for the Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg, which includes Camden Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital.
"The first priority for the American Red Cross is to provide to hospitals in the blood services region but the American Red Cross is part of a nationwide sharing system," she said. "If there's an area impacted by storms and natural disasters and they can't collect blood we'll provide them what they need after we provide for our local hospitals."
Gergely added that the nationwide sharing system comes in handy especially when a person with a rare blood type is in need of blood. She said the agency flags donors in its system who have rare blood types so that, if necessary, that person can be contacted and asked to donate right away.
Offenberger pointed out that blood is used not only for traumas but also for cancer patients who need blood transfusions, platelets and other components of blood.
"Only a small percentage of the community who can give gives," she noted. "It makes it difficult when you rely on a small percentage of people to donate blood."
Parkersburg resident Rod Marcinko, who recently gave blood at the American Red Cross' donor center in Parkersburg, said he is a regular donor.
"It's an easy way to help out, I think," he said. "There's nothing to it, anybody can do it."
Gergely said all blood types are needed but O negative, A negative, B negative and O positive are especially needed.
She said O negative blood is the universal blood type that can be transfused in any situation regardless of the patient's blood type, while O positive blood is the most common type of blood.
"A negative and B negative are among the least common - I wouldn't call them rare - but the least common of blood types," Gergely said.
Locally there are a few blood drives planned for the coming weeks as well as a few stops to be made by Marietta Memorial Hospital's blood mobile.
The American Red Cross will hold blood drives Monday at the First Baptist Church in Williamstown, Tuesday at Washington State Community College, Wednesday at the Masonic Lodge in Belpre and next Friday at the Marietta Walmart.
The hospital's blood mobile will stop Wednesday at the Kardex building in Reno, July 17 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Marietta and July 18 at the Marietta First Church of the Nazarene.
Gergely said to donate blood a person must be at least 17 years old, although Ohio and West Virginia residents who are 16 can donate with a signed parental consent form.
To give blood a person must also be in good general health and must not have donated whole blood in the past 56 days. A person must also weigh at least 110 pounds, although additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 and younger and all high school donors.