May 25, 2018
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American Red Cross urges emergency donations after storm in D.C. area creates shortage

By Dylan Martin, Special to the BDN

The American Red Cross is urging eligible blood donors in Maine to give blood after severe thunderstorms in the Washington, D.C., area forced the cancellation of more than 400 donations there this past weekend.

The extensive power outages in the D.C. area brought “the whole system down,” said Carol Dembeck, communications project manager for the northern New England region of the American Red Cross.

The organization also experienced a major shortfall nationwide in June with 50,000 fewer donations than expected.

The American Red Cross is calling for eligible donors to give blood immediately in order to keep the blood supply flowing, Dembeck said in a press release. Blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative are especially needed.

Dembeck said the northern New England region of the American Red Cross has collected 4,450 of 8,300 units of its appeal goal so far since it issued an emergency call on June 25.

Though the thunderstorms and resulting power outages affected only donation centers in Fairfax, Va., and Rockville, Md., Dembeck said it’s important for people to donate anywhere because red blood cell donations and platelets can be transferred to wherever patients need them. Power was restored at the Fairfax and Rockville centers Monday afternoon.

“We look at it as ‘blood without borders,’” she said.

Dembeck said the June shortfall could be caused in part by the arrival of an early spring, which caused many regular donors to start their summer activities earlier and not make time to donate.

“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 Morrissey, director of communications for American Red Cross’ Northeast Division.

Eligible blood donors are asked to call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit to find a blood drive and make appointments.

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