The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. This shortfall leaves the Red Cross with half the readily available blood products on hand now than this time last year.
The Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors to give as soon as possible. All blood types are needed, but especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative in order to meet patient demand this summer.
An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets. In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.
Approximately every two seconds, a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood and platelets are used for many different kinds of treatments. They include accident and burns, heart surgery, organ transplants, complications during childbirth and for patients receiving treatment for cancer or sickle cell disease.
“Blood must be available at a moment’s notice when seconds count to help save or sustain a life. We have reached an emergency situation and the blood will not be there without the immediate response of volunteer blood donors,” said Donna M. Morrissey, director of communications for the American Red Cross Blood Services – Northeast Division.
The Northeast Division is seeking to collect 8,300 pints over the next two weeks. To reach its goal, the Red Cross is adding emergency blood drives and extending blood drive hours and scheduled drives.
In addition, the Red Cross is reaching out to eligible blood donors, blood drive sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients in communities across the United States.
To give blood donors additional opportunities to donate, the Red Cross Donor Centers in Portland and Bangor have extended hours, starting June 26, and will have a special opening on Monday, July 2, from 11 am to 7 pm. Additionally, the hours have been increased at many Maine blood drives through July 10. Eligible donors are asked to call 800-RED CROSS, or 800-733-2767, or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and to make appointments.