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Red Cross: Blood supply critically low

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Blood donation centers in the region are reporting a low supply of blood caused by a reduction in donations.

American Red Cross Spokeswoman April Phillips said even as school gets underway, it will take a while for the supply to rebound in the Southeast region.

The current blood supply, Phillips said, has dropped critically low largely because individual donations have decreased, along with the number of organizations which are able to sponsor blood drives during the summer. She said the absence of high school and college blood drives has also contributed to the drop in donations. She said drives at schools account for 20 percent of the region's blood donations.

Only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate and only a fraction of those do, according to Phillips. She said the Red Cross must collect 1,200 units of blood each weekday to meet needs in the region.

The Red Cross is issuing an urgent call for individuals to donate blood, particularly donors with blood types O negative, B negative, and A negative, in order to meet regional needs, and to replenish this summer's depleted blood supply.

"Every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood," Phillips said. "That need for blood continues to grow each year, far faster than the number of individuals who donate blood."

Collecting enough blood to meet the needs of hospitals during the summer is always a challenge, according to Randy Edwards, chief executive officer of the Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.

"This is especially true this year as many donors are also dealing with business closings, layoffs and other issues relating to our current economy," Edwards said.

"Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn't go away," he continued. "Patients are dependent on the Red Cross and volunteer blood donors to make sure blood is available to patients in need. Without an immediate response from generous people in the community, our ability to provide the needed blood will be limited."

The region got a small boost in blood donations this week when motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country took part in a blood drive at the 32nd Annual National Bikers Roundup held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. Twenty-five to 30 pints of blood were collected, said Terrill Cooper, donor recruitment representative with the Red Cross.

"Each pint saves three lives," Cooper said. "So, between 75 and 90 lives could be saved."

She urged residents to consider donating at upcoming blood drives, which take walk-ins and appointments. Eligible blood donors must be at least 17 years of age (or 16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.

The American Red Cross will host blood drives in the Clayton County area on Aug. 15 from 10:30 a.m., to 2:30 p.m., at Mundys Mill High School, 9652 Fayetteville Road, Jonesboro; Aug. 21 from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., at the Clayton County Fire Department, 7810 Ga. Highway 85, Riverdale; Aug. 24 from 2 to 7 p.m., at the Clayton County Headquarters Library, 865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro; and Aug. 26 from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m., at Southern Regional Medical Center, 11 Upper Riverdale Road, Riverdale.

The American Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-448-3543.

Potential donors may also visit the Red Cross South Metro Donor Center, located at 675 Southcrest Parkway, Suite 120, in Stockbridge. Donors may also consider giving blood through LifeSouth's Southern Crescent Donor Center, located at 329 Westridge Parkway in McDonough. The center can be reached at (678) 432-0637.

On the net:

American Red Cross: www.givelife.org

LifeSouth: www.lifesouth.org