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Mike Maddock, General Manager
2011-01-28 / Government / Neighborhood

Severe winter weather causes lowest January blood supply in decades

Contributed by American Red Cross

Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross, 800 of which were in the South Carolina Region. The severity of the impact has stressed even the Red Cross’s robust national inventory management system, which can move blood products to where they’re needed most, such as when severe weather hits.

“We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade, and we need to reverse this now,“ said Delisa English, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region. “You don’t wait to refuel once you’ve run out of gas. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met.”

The hours of operation for the Columbia Donation Center, 2751 Bull St., are being extended until 5 p.m. Thursday, January 27, and until 4 p.m. Friday, January 28.

Also in response to the critical need for blood, Mayor Steve Benjamin and the American Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region Board of Directors are teaming up for the first annual Columbia Lifesavers blood drive to help increase blood donations in the Columbia area. The event will be held 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Friday, February 4, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St.

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just fivedays; they must be replenished constantly.

Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims— those who suffered due to accidents and burns —heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies, and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.

All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

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