Blood supply dwindles after donations lagged during Fourth of July holiday week
BANGOR — An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types — especially type O — to give now and help save lives.
The Red Cross escalated its call for blood and platelet donors after a difficult Independence Day week for donations. More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday and enjoyed summer activities. This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing donations to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they come in.
“Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on.”
This need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
How to help
To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added about 6,500 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.
Who blood donations help
Because of generous donors, the Red Cross is able to provide blood products for patients like 9-month-old Krew Anderson. Krew is a happy, laid-back baby boy. His wide grin frames two tiny teeth. He likes to play with balloons and just experienced his first boat ride and fireworks show, but Krew has faced more challenges in the last four months than many people will experience in a lifetime.
In March, Krew was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to produce a large number of abnormal blood cells. Since then, he has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and received 15 blood and platelet transfusions to date.
“The first time he got [a transfusion], I was just super nervous and didn’t know really what was happening,” said his mother, Stephanie Anderson. “Now, when he gets one, I’m like, ‘Yes, please, get him some blood to help him get more energy and back to normal.’”
Krew’s father, Richard Anderson, donated blood a couple of times a year prior to his son’s diagnosis, but after seeing Krew receive blood, he now plans to give as soon as he’s eligible again.
“For me, just knowing that if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I want to make sure there’s enough blood out there for everyone, and that there’s no shortage,” he said.
Missing Types sees encouraging increase in new donors — all donors needed now
Facing a decline of about 80,000 new Red Cross blood donors each year for the past several years, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign in June to encourage new donors, and those who have not given recently, to donate blood. While the campaign has already inspired thousands of new donors to give, the Red Cross is now calling on all eligible blood and platelet donors to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible to overcome the emergency blood shortage.
Through the Missing Types campaign, which runs throughout the summer, the letters A, B and O – letters used to identify blood types – disappeared from corporate logos, celebrity social media accounts and favorite websites to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring blood is never missing from hospital shelves.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities July 9-31:
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, YMCA, 40 Granite Hill Road, Manchester.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, Oddfellows Frontier Lodge 111, 11 Hillside St., Baileyville.
— Noon-5 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, Maine Veterans Homes Machias, 32 Veterans Way.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, July 12, Searsport Lions, 44 Prospect St., Searsport.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, July 12, VFW, 58 Preble Ave., Madison.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, July 13, Emerson Hall, 67 Court St., Castine.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 13, Midcoast Recreation Center, 535 West St., Rockport.
— 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 66 Old County Road, Rockport.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, Maine State Credit Union, 26 Ganneston Drive, Augusta.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, Colby College, 4000 Mayflower Hill Drive, Waterville.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, July 19, Boothbay YMCA, 261 Townsend Ave., Route 27, Boothbay.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, July 20, Wiscasset Community Center, 242 Gardiner Road, Route 27, Wiscasset.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, July 20, Tarratine Tribe, 153 Main St., Belfast.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, July 20, Eastport Youth Center, 2 Staniels Road, Eastport.
— 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 21, American Legion, 79 Legion Memorial Drive, South China.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 21, Parkman Town Office, 771 State Highway 150.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, July 23, Hollywood Slots Casino, 500 Main St., Bangor.
— Noon-5 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, Congregational Church of Bristol, 1263 Bristol Road, Bristol.
— 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 59 Libby Hill Road, Newport.
— 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, Kennebec Valley YMCA, 31 Union St., Augusta.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, July 26, Senator Inn and Spa, 284 Western Ave., Augusta.
— 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, July 26, Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, July 26, American Legion Rockland, 335 Limerock St., Rockland.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, July 27, Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St., Rockland.
— 1-6 p.m. Friday, July 27, YMCA, 116 Union St., Rockport.
— 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, July 27, Bangor Blood Donation Center, 900B Hammond St., Bangor.
— 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 27, University of Maine, 246 Main St., North Dining Hall, Farmington.
— 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 28, YMCA MDI, 36 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor.
— 1-6 p.m. Monday, July 30, Family Worship Center, 1372 Bangor Road, Dover-Foxcroft.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Town Hall, 3 School St., Tenants Harbor.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Dunkin’ Donuts, 11 Waterville Road, Norridgewock.
— 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, St. Albans Union Church, 15 Main St., St. Albans.