American Red Cross appeals for blood donations

An official said that the 61,000 fewer donations translates to a 13 percent decrease, or not collecting any blood donations for four days

By Matt Mallio
Wicked Local Metro

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A steady decline in blood donations over the last two months has led to "a critical blood shortage" for the American Red Cross, according to a spokesperson for the agency. According to local officials, Lexington, as of now, will not be affected.

Kelly Isenor of the American Red Cross said that the 61,000 fewer donations translates to a 13 percent decrease, or the American Red Cross not collecting any blood donations for four days. She said the organization does keeps a "daily track" of its donations and it is typical for donations to drop during the summer months. However, she said this year donations dropped farther than expected. As a result, she said, the Red Cross is trying to get the word out and appeal for donations.

There have been about 61,000 fewer donations than needed, she said, which has caused "a significant draw-down" of the Red Cross blood supply.

Lexington blood drive

Kyle B. Reilly, Director of Media Relations for Lahey Health, said neither Lahey Lexington or Lahey Hospital anticipate any interruptions in services. However, she said there will be a blood drive at Lahey Burlington on Friday, July 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lexington Assistant Fire Chief Derek Sencabaugh said emergency services in Lexington would not be affected as the department does not provide blood transfusions in ambulances.

'Constant need'

Nearly one-third fewer new blood donors came out to give last summer than during the rest of the year, Isenor said, due in part to schools – where blood drives are held and where new donors give – being out of session during the summer.

"The supply in constantly in flux," said Isenor, and the Red Cross likes to have a five-day supply of blood on hand.

That standard means that if, for some reason there was an emergency or a disaster and there was disruption in the blood supply, hospitals, nationwide, would still have enough blood to cover regular operations for five days. Right now, it's dipped below that mark.

"There's always a constant need," said Isenor, "but right now, it's a little more critical."

"Thankfully," she added, "it doesn't happen often."

Blood Products

Isenor said that when blood is donated, people usually give "whole blood" which can then be broken down into three components. The first are red blood cells, which have a shelf life of 42 days. The second product is blood platelets, which Isenor said are "very delicate" and can only last five days. The third component is blood plasma, which can frozen and can last up to a year. The call for red blood cells and platelets is high.

"As it's going out, it's got to be coming in," said Isenor.

"Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies," Isenor wrote in an email, "including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country."

Blood drives

The American Red Cross website ( has information on the times and places of local blood drives. The press release states that those interested in scheduling "an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The Red Cross has added more than 25,000 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate."

Copyright 2017 Wicked Local Metro

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