The American Red Cross, including local chapters, is facing a looming blood and platelet shortage, and officials are asking new and regular donors to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.
Donations through the Red Cross are down about 8 percent over the past 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected across the nation.
The shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks, officials said.
In northeast Indiana, the number of people donating blood has dropped off as well, according to Red Cross spokesman Vince Robinson.
While we are not as far down as other regions, there’s definitely been a decline in donors, Robinson said.
When school is out, donations from those who normally give tend to drop by 80 percent nationwide.
While donations typically go down in the summer, this year seems to have incurred a larger drop than normal, Robinson said.
The July Fourth holiday could have been a factor, he said.
Since July Fourth fell on a Friday, many people made it a three-or four-day holiday, and some took the entire week off, he said.
In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared with Independence Day week when 3,450 drives occurred.
It’s hard to say if supplies are down, because they are always in flux since the supplies are perishable, he said. So, our concern right now is that we get those supplies on the shelf.
The best way for new or regular donors to give blood and easily find a nearby site is to go to the Red Cross website at RedCrossBlood.org, Robinson said.
Donors can search by entering their ZIP codes, and a list of locations, sorted by date and distance, will appear, he said.
In addition to the need for types O, B and A-negative blood, there is also an urgent need for platelet donations.
Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often used for cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients – must be transfused within five days of donation.