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Red Cross seeks Mid-Ohio Valley donors to combat blood shortage

PARKERSBURG — The American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise and as a result deplete the nation’s blood inventory.

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to give as soon as possible to prevent further impact to patients, the Red Cross said.

Hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits, overdoses and resulting transplants. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen demand from trauma centers climb by 10 percent in 2021, more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide blood transfusions.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” said Sharon Kesselring, executive director, American Red Cross of the Ohio River Valley. “As many people begin to enjoy travel and time with loved ones again this summer, patients are relying on the generosity of donors to help ensure they have access to the treatment they need. Please consider blood donation as a summer activity that can help save lives.”

Appointments can be scheduled using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

In addition to trauma needs, hospital demand also is high for blood as people who deferred care during the height of the pandemic have more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions. Over the last three months, the Red Cross has distributed about 75,000 more blood products than expected to meet these needs.

Some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes. Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled, so it must constantly be replenished by donors.

Those who give through June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon gift card by email, courtesy of Amazon. Restrictions apply, and additional information is available at redcrossblood.org/together.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine is important in determining donation eligibility.

As more than a third of Americans have become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Red Cross is winding down COVID-19 antibody testing for blood, platelet and plasma donations.

Through Friday, the Red Cross is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Testing may show possible exposure to the virus or whether a donor has developed an immune response to vaccination. The conclusion of Red Cross antibody testing represents a new, hopeful phase as the nation continues to journey out of this pandemic.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through June 30

* Portsmouth, noon to 5:30 p.m. June 29, All Saints Episcopal Church, 610 Fourth St.

* Little Hocking, 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, St. Ambrose Church, 5080 School House Road.

* St. Marys, 1:30 to 7 p.m. June 28, First Baptist Church, 425 Barkwill St.

* Parkersburg, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Parkersburg Blood Donation Center, 3210 Dudley Ave.

* Parkersburg, noon to 6 p.m. June 29, Parkersburg Blood Donation Center, 3210 Dudley Ave.

* Vienna, noon to 6 p.m. today, Grand Central Mall.

* Vienna, 1-6 p.m. Thursday, Grand Central Mall. (canceled)

The Red Cross has updated its pandemic safety protocols in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fully vaccinated individuals, including staff and donors, no longer need to wear masks or socially distance.

Unvaccinated individuals continue to be required to wear masks and socially distance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.

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