LEWISTOWN - The American Red Cross faces a blood shortage and needs donations of all blood types, according to a release issued Tuesday by the agency.
Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients and must be transfused within five days of donation, so it's important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.
Donations through the Red Cross have decreased approximately eight percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected. The number of donors continues to decline and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks, the release indicates.
The fact that Independence Day fell on a Friday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Many sponsors did not host drives because donors and volunteers took vacations over the long weekend or for the entire week. During that week, 3,450 blood drives were held compared to the average summer week in which about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled.
"Hospital patients continue to need life saving blood this summer and they're relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead," said Carolyn Kean, community chief executive officer of the Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region. "Please, consider giving the gift of life. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need - and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood."
Upcoming drives in Mifflin and Juniata counties include:
1-6:30 p.m., today, Pine Glen Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, 1058 state Route 103 North, Lewistown;
12:30-6 p.m., Aug. 21, Lewistown Elks Lodge No. 663, 229 W. Third St., Lewistown;
10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Aug. 29, Moose Family Center, 80 Brady Lane, Lewistown;
Noon-6 p.m., Sept. 3, Locust Grove Mennonite Church, 3358 W. Main St., Belleville;
Noon-6 p.m., Sept. 11, Ellen Chapel Church, 11764 Ferguson Valley Road, Lewistown;
9 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 13, St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, 3918 William Penn Highway, Mifflintown.
To donate blood, call (800) 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card, driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are age 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors age 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.