American Red Cross renews calls for blood donors

Photo by Jess Mancini From the left, Brian Adams, Ben Wilson and Sharon Kesselring of the American Red Cross talk about the blood shortage that remains at emergency conditions in the region and across America. The next blood drive in the area is Aug. 31 at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church.

PARKERSBURG — Blood supplies remain at critical levels, prompting local officials with the American Red Cross Thursday to renew calls for donors.

Donations were going at a healthy pace until around mid July when they dropped for unexplainable reasons, said Sharon Kesselring, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia.

“Since then we’ve been having problems,” she said.

The Red Cross in July issued an alert about a nationwide blood shortage that was more severe than past years’ mid-summer shortages. Coupled with a record number of travelers this season who haven’t donated, the Red Cross reported it received 56,000 fewer blood donations than it usually receives in May and June.

The drop off in donations was abrupt, Kesselring said. Why has yet to be determined, she said.

While the agency is trying to figure out why, blood drives continue to be scheduled, said Ben Wilson, a Red Cross district manager for the Huntington District. The drop off was pronounced in the southern counties in the district, he said.

“We’re still trying to find out what’s going on,” he said.

Of prime need are donors with O-negative blood, Wilson said. O-negative can be used by everyone, he said.

Three blood drives are scheduled in the Parkersburg area in the next few weeks, said Brian Adams, a donor recruitment director for the Red Cross in Parkersburg. The counties he covers include Wood, Wirt, Washington, Clay, Roane, Jackson, Mason and Putnam.

The drives are scheduled: 1:30-6 p.m. Aug. 31 at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, Mineral Wells; 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Grand Central Mall near the Belk’s entrance; and 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Labor Day at the Marietta Memorial Hospital Strecker Cancer Center.

As an incentive, donors will receive an aluminum Red Cross water bottle.

Donors are encouraged to make an appointment, Adams said. Appointments can be made through the Red Cross website, redcrossblood.org, and an app is available for smart phones at the website, Google Play or the Apple Store.

The app makes scheduling an appointment quick and easy, Kesselring said.

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