(Dwindling Blood Supply)

American Red Cross Asks For Help With Blood Shortage

Main Category: Public Health News
Article Date: 17 Aug 2005 - 9:00am

Concerned about meeting the needs of hospital patients across the nation, the American Red Cross is undertaking a comprehensive campaign to end the cyclical shortages that have affected blood collection efforts this summer. Individual Red Cross blood collection centers across the country have exhausted all local efforts to increase the number of blood donations and are now joining forces in an effort to end the current shortage. For the next two to three weeks, Americans will see a marked increase in formal appeals and requests for blood on behalf of the American Red Cross. Existing and new blood donors are asked to call 1-800 GIVE LIFE to schedule an appointment and help bolster supplies in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend and through early fall.

Earlier this summer, the American Red Cross issued a national appeal for blood through local media outlets; however, the response by the American public was not enough to ensure the availability of blood for patients in need nationwide. "Few people understand that blood is a perishable resource and must be replenished through regular donation. At least 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate, yet only 5 percent of the eligible population actually donates blood. Compound that number with longer work hours, family and school vacations and you can see how critical the situation has become," said Dr. Jerry Squires, Chief Medical Officer of the American Red Cross. "If the gasoline supply dropped to one and a half days as people headed out to enjoy the Labor Day weekend," he added,"America would consider that a crisis - we want people to be just as concerned about the blood supply."

The situation is further compounded by the paucity of high school and college blood drives. "During the school year, those drives supply anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the overall blood supply," said Squires. "When schools are closed and college campuses are practically deserted, those blood donations go away, too."