Red Cross seeks blood donors

PARKERSBURG – There are a number of opportunities in the weeks ahead for Mid-Ohio Valley residents to help the American Red Cross avoid a potential blood shortage in the region.

According to a release from the organization, blood donations through the Red Cross are down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks nationwide. That works out to about 80,000 fewer donations than anticipated.

The summer is traditionally a down time for blood donations, said Marianne Spampinato, external communications manager for the Red Cross’ Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region.

People who might donate at other times of the year go on vacation, businesses that hold blood drives may be short-staffed, and schools are out.

“We collect about 20 percent of our annual blood donations at blood drives held at high schools, colleges and universities,” Spampinato said.

Independence Day falling on a Friday exacerbated the situation, the release says, as people took vacations over the long weekend or for the entire week. Just 3,450 blood drives were held that week, compared to the 4,400 usually scheduled for an average summer week, the release says.

Camden Clark Medical Center’s blood bank has not felt the impact yet, said Bobbi Ward, administrative director of the hospital laboratory. But that doesn’t mean local residents should put off donating.

“Vacation time every year it becomes an issue,” Ward said. “It’s always a good idea to donate.”

Donors with blood types O negative, B negative and A negative are particularly needed, Spampinato said. O negative is the universal type that can be transfused to anyone; however, people with O negative blood can only receive O negative in a transfusion. Types B negative and A negative, meanwhile, can be given to patients whether they are Rh positive or negative.

Platelet donations are urgently needed, the release says. The clotting components are often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients and must be transfused within five days of donation.

Spampinato said she’s not aware of additional blood drives being scheduled in the region to address the potential shortfall. The regularly planned ones will suffice if enough people go, she said.

“We really need to call upon the community to step forward,” Spampinato said.

People can donate blood from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the next two Fridays at the Red Cross’ Keystone Donor Center at 3210 Dudley Ave. in Parkersburg. There are events scheduled for today in Spencer, Monday in New Martinsville, July 30 in Harrisville and July 31 in West Union.

Camden Clark has scheduled an employee blood drive for 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 8, in the auditorium on the Memorial Campus. It’s open to the public, said Elizabeth Bennett, employee health manager for the hospital.

“It takes about an hour, and an hour of your time can change somebody’s life forever,” she said.

People can contact Bennett’s office at 304-424-2151 or go to www.redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.

Appointments for other blood drives can be made at that website or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS and selecting option 2.