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American Red Cross Blood Services in need of blood donations in area

This time each year, area residents typically see a lot of red: Santa Claus, poinsettias, Valentine’s Day hearts and even Rudolph’s red nose.
However, the Greater Alleghenies Region, American Red Cross Blood Services, is currently seeing a lot less red – fewer red blood cell products – on its shelves to meet the needs of hospital patients this winter.
Jim Starr, CEO, Red Cross Blood Services, stated that the 100-county region entered 2008 with just a half day’s reserves of Type O negative blood – that’s 65 units for the 97 hospitals served by the local Red Cross blood region. Supplies of Type A positive, A negative and B negative currently stand below two-day supply levels, well below the desired five to seven day levels.
“We ask area residents to ‘raise our red,’ to increase our blood supplies, so that blood products are readily available when someone needs a transfusion,” Starr commented. “Every two seconds, someone in our country needs a blood transfusion. This need continues 365 days a year, holidays included.”
This season is often a challenging time to maintain sufficient blood supplies. Last month, winter storms resulted in blood drive cancellations representing more than 800 units of blood. Outbreaks of colds and flu and the busyness of the holidays also result low donor turnout, which leads to blood shortages.
Area residents can help boost supplies for patients in need by donating blood. Today, in Tyrone, there is a blood drive at the Tyrone Senior Center, 505 3rd Street, from noon to 6 p.m. But, there are blood drives going on throughout the area from today to Jan. 7.
The blood drive in Tyrone is a “2RBC, which allows donors to donate double red blood cells, with donors with Type O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative currently in high demand to help build low blood supplies.
Donor eligibility for double red cell collection is also determined differently, and varies for men and women. Males must weigh at least 150 pounds and must be at least five feet, one inch tall; while females must be at least 175 pounds and stand at least five feet, five inches tall. All donors are required to have at least a starting hematocrit (iron level) of 40 percent or more.
For donors giving through the double red cell procedure, the waiting period between donations is extended from 56 days to 112 days. To make an appointment to donate double red blood cells, please call (800)-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) and select Option 3.
Starr noted that those who present to donate at any Greater Alleghenies Region blood drive up until January 14 will receive a red “Raise the Red” long-sleeved t-shirt, while supplies last.
To donate blood, individuals must be at least 17 years old, weight at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health.
Those with specific eligibility questions should call 1 (800) 542-5663 and ask to speak to someone in Nursing Collections.
“Donation appointments may be scheduled at many Red Cross blood drives,” Starr added. “To schedule your blood donation appointment where available, or to find a blood drive near you, visit www.redcrosslife.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.”