By Sherrie Norris
A critical blood shortage across the country has been announced by the American Red Cross, with donations urgently needed to meet the growing demand. A list of local blood drives (see below for locations, dates and times) will hopefully help make a difference as we close in on the season’s busiest holiday, when the need will increase even more so with heightened travel and more accidents.
Immediate action is needed, according to Chris Hrouda, the organization’s president or biomedical services, who in a recent press release, sent out alarming stats and an appeal to all donors.
“Our teams are working around the clock to meet the extraordinary blood needs of hospitals and patients – distributing about 75,000 more blood products than expected over the past three months to meet demand – but we can’t do it without donors. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.”
Red Cross recently announced that a rise in the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries requiring blood products over recent months has depleted the nation’s blood inventory. Thus, an appeal to the generosity of Americans for immediate action was issued.
Currently, the organization reported, hospitals are responding to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen red cell demand from hospitals with trauma centers climb by 10 percent in 2021 – more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide transfusions. It was noted that 20- 40 percent of trauma deaths that occur after hospital admission involve massive hemorrhaging. In these dire circumstances, doctors may need hundreds of blood products, depending on the severity of the trauma, to help save a life.
And it should come as no surprise that part of thehospital demand for blood stems from patients who, previously deferred care during the COVID-19 pandemic, have now begun presenting with more advanced disease progression, therefore requiring increased blood transfusions.
“Some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care. As we return to pre-pandemic activities and resume travel to visit loved ones, we want people to remember the needs of patients this summer and the power so many of us have to help save lives,” Hrouda added.
The most needed blood group — Type O — currently has less than half a day supply available.
Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. 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.
There is also an emergency need for platelets, the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments – a disease all too familiar to millions of Americans and their families.
Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled, so ongoing donations are vital.
Those who donate with the Red Cross June 14-30 receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card by email, thanks to a partnership with Amazon.
For those with Covid concerns, be aware that each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. Individuals who have received a Covid-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate blood and platelets. Knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they receive is important in determining blood donation eligibility.
As more people are vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases significantly drops, the following Red Cross safety guidelines — based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration — are now in effect:
- Fully vaccinated blood donors will no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance. If someone wishes to continue wearing a mask, they may do so.
- Non-vaccinated blood donors will continue to be required to wear a mask and socially distance for their safety and the safety of those around them.
ABOUT BLOOD DONATION
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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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 and platelet donors can 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, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross covers a myriad of services across the country, and is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.
The organization 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.
Local Opportunities to Donate Blood
Upcoming blood drives sponsored by the American Red Cross in the Boone area include the following:
- Thursday, June 24, 2 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 131 Big Valley St. Boone
- Tuesday, July 6, 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Holiday Inn Express, 1943 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone
- Wednesday, July 7, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Cheap Joe’s, 374 Industrial Park, Boone
- Tuesday, July 13, 10:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. Appalachian State University, Hwy, 321 and Rivers St. Boone
- Wednesday, July 21, 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Wal-Mart at Watauga Village Shopping Center, 200 Watauga Village Drive, Boone
- Thursday, July 22, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Watauga County Agricultural Center, 252 Poplar grove Rd. Boone
- Saturday, July 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Lowes Home Improvement, 1855 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone
- Wednesday, July 28, 12 noon- 4 p.m. Laurel Springs Baptist Church, 7504 US Hwy. 421 S., Deep Gap
- Friday, July 30, 1 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. Shoppes on the Parkway, Hwy. 321 Blowing Rock
- Tuesday, Aug. 3, 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.Holiday Inn Express, 1943 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone
- Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2 p.m.- 6:30 p.m. Blue Ridge EMC, 2491 US Hwy. 421 S. Boone
- Friday, Aug. 6, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Boone United Methodist Church, 471 New Market Blvd. Boone
- Saturday, Aug. 21, 9 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. Grace Lutheran Church, 115 E. King St. Boone
- Wednesday, Aug. 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Shoppes on the Parkway, Hwy. 321 Blowing Rock
- Monday, Aug. 30, 12 noon – 4:30 p.m. Alliance Bible Fellowship, 1035 NC Hwy. 105 Bypass, Boone
Walk-ins are welcome at any of the donor sites, or you may schedule your blood donation appointment or search for other opportunities byusing the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Note: Please call or check the website closer to your desired donation location for any changes in scheduling.