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American Red Cross asking for blood donors

A disappointing holiday donation slump and widespread flu outbreak in four of the six states it serves are cited by regional American Red Cross Blood Services officials for current emergency levels of Type O and A blood supplies.
According to Dr. John Nobiletti, medical officer for the 100-county Greater Alleghenies Region of Red Cross Blood Services, inventories of O Positive, O Negative, A Positive and A Negative blood types stand at less than a one-day supply.
“We estimate that supplies of these types at our hospital customers are as low as 20 percent of their desired amounts. This morning, we had just 80 units of Type O negative red blood cells on hand to distribute to 100 hospitals,” said Dr. Nobiletti. “In an ideal situation, we would have 500 units a week’s supply on our shelves in order to meet all routine and emergency needs.”
He also added that regional supplies of other blood types are also critically low.
“We are actually importing supplies from other Red Cross regions; however, we are unable to get help from other regions for Type O blood, as other regions are also experiencing post-holiday shortages.”
He said that if donations don’t soon increase, the region may be forced to ask hospitals to curtail elective surgeries.
“Some hospitals may have already taken this action on their own,” added Dr. Nobiletti.
He attributes the disappointingly low recent collections to holiday season activities and the widespread flu outbreak in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control. Donors that are ill are deferred from donating blood until they are well.
One of the easiest ways people can help others is to donate blood, and it seems simple enough. However, of the 50 percent of Americans who are eligible to give blood, only five percent actually do.
That means five percent of America’s population is supplying the whole nation with the needed blood supply.
Eligible donors may be those individuals in generally good health, age 17 or older, and who weigh at least 105 pounds. Most people can safely donate blood every 56 days. There is a screening process for interested individuals.
According to American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Region donor resources assistant Claudia Horner, it is important for individuals to donate blood because after 42 days, the blood must be retired if it is not used.
The red blood cells have to be discarded after that amount of time. Also, plasma only lasts for five days, so that is why there is always a need for blood over holidays and long weekends.
Bring a friend to one of the following blood drives in the area to donate blood: Thurs., Jan. 8 from 10-4 p.m. Sheetz Training and Conference Center; Thurs., Jan. 15 from noon-6 p.m. at Logan Valley Mall first level community room; Wed., Jan. 21 from 10:30-4:30 p.m. at VA Medical Center and Thurs., Jan. 22 from 10:30-4:30 p.m. at Penn State Altoona Slep Student Center.
For more information about locating a local blood drive, contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit the web site at www.redcrosslife.org