Call for blood donations renewed

The American Red Cross is opening up more than 500 shelters, and providing food and other assistance to more than 48,000 residents along the East Coast affected by Hurricane Irene late last month, according to Red Cross officials.

Georgia Power officials sent employees to Virginia, and Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMC) reported several of its linemen traveled to North Carolina and Maryland. The electric utilities combined efforts to restore normalcy to the regions in the path of Hurricane Irene late last month.

The American Red Cross is also providing services to those along the Gulf Coast, impacted by Hurricane Lee. However, as clouds clear from remnants of those storms, blood supply continues to be overshadowed by the need for blood.

The continued blood shortfall prompted Red Cross officials to renew their call for blood donations.

“The storm may be over, but our work is far from done,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and CEO. “We expect this disaster relief operation to be a very large operation that will continue for several weeks.”

The Red Cross is experiencing a shortage in donations from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, according to April Phillips, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.

“Last week, there were about 3,000 units that were unable to be collected as a result of Hurricane Irene,” said Phillips. “Donations were down in metro Atlanta, as well, due to Hurricane Lee which impacted some parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.”

Phillips noted the unofficial transition from summer to fall over the past couple of weeks typically turns up fewer blood drives and fewer donations. But the recent storms and the Labor Day holiday have exaggerated the lack of supply versus need.

“There’s a need for blood every single day,” she said.

Phillips urges citizens to make blood and platelet donations at their nearest donor center or upcoming blood drive. To schedule an appointment at the local donor center, visit www.redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donations also can be made to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by calling the toll free number, visiting www.redcross.org, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Phillips said contributions may be sent to local Red Cross chapters or mailed to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.