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Red Cross to help Japanese earthquake victims

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The American Red Cross, a national blood-services organization, is working to respond to blood needs, in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Associated Press, on Friday, reported that an 8.9 quake -- the biggest in Japan's recorded history -- decimated parts of the country. Hours later, a tsunami tore through Japan's eastern coast, killing hundreds, according to the news service.

"Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture, or state, closest to the epicenter," the news service reported. "But authorities said they weren't able to reach the area because of damage to the roads."

In the days before the earthquake, the American Red Cross urged the American public to join its efforts, by volunteering, giving blood, or making a donation to the organization as part of Red Cross Month, to help cover needs in the U.S.

Efforts were underway Friday afternoon, however, to be ready to respond to the tragedy in Japan, said April Phillips, Red Cross spokesperson for the Southern Blood Services Region office in Douglasville.

Blood donation opportunities are available in Clayton and Henry counties on March 21 at the McDonough Presbyterian Church, 427 McGarity Road, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m., and beginning March 24 at the United Education Institute, 1564 Southlake Parkway, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., through April 29.

There also is an American Red Cross Blood Donation Center at 675 Southcrest Parkway, suite 120, in Stockbridge.

"The Red Cross does stand ready to respond to any American, or Japanese blood needs," Phillips said. "Our organization will ship blood products outside of the United States -- adhering to all appropriate regulatory guidelines -- following a specific request from the Japanese government or the Japanese Red Cross. To date, the American Red Cross has not received any requests for blood from the Japanese Red Cross, the Japanese government or the U.S. State Department.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan and the other survivors of the earthquake and tsunami," Phillips continued. "Should the need arise, the Red Cross will do everything it can to assist Japan with their request.

"Right now, we are in discussions with the Japanese Red Cross to assess their needs, and see how we can help," she said.

Blood donors in the United States are asked to call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED CROSS, or visit www.redcrossblood.org, to make an appointment to give blood.