Blood emergency: Red Cross issues urgent call for blood and platelet donors

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Thomas Brown finishes giving blood with American Red Cross staff member Alex White. Amanda Romney / American Red Cross

Less than three-day supply of most blood types; new and existing donors called to help save lives

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Following a difficult Fourth of July week for blood and platelet donations and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors, the American Red Cross now faces a blood shortage and has issued an emergency call for eligible individuals of all blood types to give now and prevent delays in medical care.

About 450 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as people across the country celebrated the holiday with activities and travel. This led to about 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients in a single week, causing the Red Cross to now have less than a three-day supply of most blood types available – and less than a two-day supply of type O blood – for patients. At least a five-day supply is desired.

“Medical emergencies and critical treatments don’t stop for holiday celebrations. Patients depend on lifesaving blood transfusions every day,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Right now, the Red Cross only has less than a three-day supply when we need a five-day supply to be prepared for all situations that require blood products. To help meet this need, we’ve added about 8,000 additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. But we need people to fill those appointments, please join us today.”

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Missing Types sees encouraging response, but all donors needed now

In June, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to encourage donors – especially new donors and those who have not donated in the past years – to give blood or platelets during the challenging summer months. Through the campaign, the letters A, B and O – letters that make up the main blood groups – disappeared from popular brands to symbolize what happens when blood goes missing from hospital shelves during blood shortages.

Despite an encouraging response to the campaign, blood donations still fell short of expectations in June, resulting in more than 24,000 fewer donations than needed, 200 fewer here in the Greater Ozarks & Arkansas Blood Services Region, and causing a significant draw down of the Red Cross blood supply.

“Blood is only available when generous blood and platelet donors roll up a sleeve to give, and right now, all donors – especially those give have never given or haven’t given in a while – are urged to make an appointment to give today,” Numark added.

How to help

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

Who blood donations help

In May 2018 at the age of ten, Sydni Brown of Neosho, Mo., was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, also known as ARMS. The treatment plan for ARMS is very intense and included 54 weeks of chemotherapy, with radiation therapy involved. Weekly, Sydni and her family would make a 300-mile trip from their home in Seneca, Mo., to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for her treatments, which included 18 blood transfusions and 10 platelet transfusions to date. Sydni had her last chemotherapy treatment May 20th, and her final end of treatment scan on June 10th. She now only needs monthly check-up trips to St. Louis.

Sydni and her family are partnering up on another blood drive in her honor Friday, July 13 at Abundant Life Church, 700 Spencer Drive, in Neosho.

“There are children just like Sydni who are in a fight for their life against ARMS and this is a way to generate more awareness,” said Darci Brown, Sydni’s mother. “We have had a tremendous outpouring of donors for the first two drives, and we hope the community comes out to donate blood in her honor once again.”

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

Carthage

7/11/2019: 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Church of the Nazarene, 2000 Grand

Neosho

7/13/2019: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Abundant Life Church, 700 Spencer Drive

7/22/2019: 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., Lampo Community Center, 500 E. Spring St.

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