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The American Red Cross is urging individuals to donate blood as soon as possible.
The blood supply has dropped critically low throughout the Southeast, said Joyce Brendel, interim chief executive officer of American Red Cross Carolinas Blood Services Region.
Brendel said while all blood types are needed, there is a critical need for types O negative, B negative and A negative.
In the summer, blood shortages often occur because individual donations decrease, along with the number of organizations that sponsor blood drives.
Brendel said the absence of high school and college blood drives contributes to a steep drop in donations. High School and college blood drives account for approximately 20 percent of all donations.
“Collecting enough blood to meet hospitals’ needs during the summer is always a challenge,” Brendel said. “This is especially true this year as many donors are also dealing with business closings, layoffs and other issues relating to our current economy. Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn’t go away.”
Brendel said hospitals are dependent on the Red Cross and volunteer blood donors to make sure blood is available to patients in need.
“Without an immediate response from generous people in the community, our ability to provide the needed blood will be limited,” she said.
By the numbers
According to the Red Cross, someone in this country needs blood every two seconds. That need for blood continues to grow each year faster than the number of individuals who donate blood.
Right now, only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate and only a fraction of those eligible actually do.
In the Carolinas Blood Services Region, the Red Cross must collect 1,600 units of blood each weekday to meet the needs of hospital patients.
Can you donate?
Eligible blood donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.
Donors with type O (positive and negative), B negative and A negative blood should consider an automated red-cell donation, a process in which only red cells are donated.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit redcrossblood.org.
Upcoming local blood drives
The American Red Cross has scheduled these public blood drives in Lancaster County this month.
• Tuesday – 2:30 to 7 p.m., White Springs Baptist Church, 1249 Grace Ave.
• Aug. 20 – 3:30 to 8 p.m., Covenant Baptist Church, 165 Craig Manor Road
• Aug. 20 – 2:30 to 7 p.m., Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 1005 University Drive
• Aug. 25 – 3 to 7:30 p.m., Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church, 238 Fort Mill Highway