Savannah — With blood donations at such low levels that the Red Cross can currently supply only one fourth of Georgia hospitals’ demand for blood, an urgent call for donors has been issued by the humanitarian organization.
A nationwide blood shortage is making it very difficult to find blood to bring here from other states, say Red Cross officials, so local hospitals are dependent on local donations. All blood types are needed, but the greatest shortage is for type O- and type O+ blood which are used extensively in hospital emergency rooms.
Type O blood, which is compatible with every blood type, must always be on hand because it can be safely transfused right away to trauma patients that are in danger of bleeding to death.
“We are severely rationing the amount of O blood being distributed to hospitals and some of them are operating on a system of emergency release for every O unit that is transfused,” said Dr. Krista Hillyer, chief medical officer for American Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region. “It is imperative that more blood become available in Georgia for patient care, so donations are needed right away.”
During summer, blood shortages are common because donations decrease as do the number of organizations that will sponsor blood drives. The biggest loss for blood banks, though, is the absence of high school and college blood drives during summer break because 20 percent of donations come from students when school is in session.
“We are asking people to call us at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit www.givelife.org to make appointments to give blood, so that we can eliminate long waits at our donor centers and blood drives. The donations are so important, but we also want to make it as convenient as possible for our generous donors,” Dr. Hillyer said.
There is no substitute for blood and the only source is volunteer donations. Blood donors must be 17 or older and weigh 110 pounds or more. Most people can donate blood every 56 days. Platelets can usually be donated every two to three weeks, up to 24 times a year.
The American Red Cross distributes blood to 130 hospitals in Georgia. Donations can be made at the American Red Cross Donor Center on Tibet Avenue in Savannah.
Urgent need hours through June 30 are Monday-Thursday 10 a.m-7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.