By Johnny Jackson
Officials with the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region have issued an urgent call for blood donors.
The organization is calling for donors of all blood types to support its efforts to replenish the region's blood banks, which are currently in critical need of blood products, according to April Phillips, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.
"There is an emergency need for all blood types, particularly for Type O [negative] blood," Phillips said. "It's more important than ever for our community to come out and donate."
Phillips said the decline in blood donations -- typical over the summer months -- was exacerbated this summer by abnormally hot weather, which may have caused many regular, and would-be, donors to stay home, away from area blood donor centers and drives. She said the organization also has experienced a high number of donors, who are unable to keep their appointments.
"And while high schools and colleges are getting back in session right now," she added, "we're probably not going to see a significant change in blood donations until late September."
The Red Cross closely monitors national and local blood supplies to ensure that donations are keeping pace with hospitals' need for blood products for ongoing and emergency patient care, she continued, noting that Georgia has been one state whose need exceeds its donations.
"There is a critical need for blood donors now," added Randy Edwards, CEO for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. "This summer, we have had a particularly difficult time recruiting enough blood donors to meet the requirements of our community's hospitals, and the patients they serve.
"We urge people to make, and keep, an appointment to donate blood now," said Edwards. "Chances are, someone is counting on you right now for their very life."
Type O negative donors can make the difference between an adequate blood supply and a shortage, explained Phillips. She said donors with all blood types are needed, but Type O negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type, and is most readily given to patients in emergency and trauma situations.
The Red Cross official noted that more than 39,000 pints of blood are needed daily for patients in the United States, where each whole blood donation can help save up to three lives.
"The biggest thing is, if people are eligible to donate, please, come out," Phillips said. "Only about 2 percent of the population donates in the state of Georgia, when 38 percent of the population is probably eligible."
She said those interested in donating blood to the Red Cross can do so regularly at the Red Cross' South Metro Donor Center, located at 675 Southcrest Pkwy., Suite 120, in Stockbridge.
Residents can schedule appointments to donate blood by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or by visiting the Red Cross web site, at www.redcrossblood.org. The center is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from noon, until 7 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, from 8 a.m., until 3 p.m.
The Red Cross will also host several upcoming community blood drives throughout the Southern Crescent region, as follows:
* Morrow, United Education Institute, 1564 Southlake Parkway, from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m.
* Stockbridge, Union United Methodist Church, 4600 Ga. Highway 138 SW, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 31
* Conyers, Rockdale Medical Center East Tower, 1412 Milstead Ave., from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m.
* Griffin, First United Methodist Church of Griffin, 1401 Maple Drive, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 2
* Griffin, Spalding Regional Medical Center, 601 South 8th Street, from 3 p.m., to 8 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3
* Peachtree City, Peachtree City Gathering Place, 205 McIntosh Trail, from 8:30 a.m., until 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 9
* Conyers, American Legion Post No. 77, 674 American Legion Road, from 1 p.m., to 6 p.m.
Source: American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region