A critical shortage in supplies has led to an emergency call for eligible blood and platelet donors, which officials hope a series of upcoming drives in Stokes County will help alleviate.
A blood “emergency” means there might not be enough for those in need and patient care could be delayed.
Blood donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer pints than needed and causing a significant drawdown of the American Red Cross blood supply. The organization is urging members of the public with all blood types to give and help save lives.
“It’s crucial that people donate now to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood,” said Lynn Wilkes of the Red Cross’ Carolinas Blood Services Region in Winston-Salem, which covers Stokes County.
“Every day, blood and platelet donors can help save lives, and right now these heroes are needed to give as soon as possible,” Wilkes added.
A number of blood drives are planned throughout Stokes County for the remainder of July, including these locations and schedules:
• Aug. 5 in the Lawsonville community at 4589 NC Hwy N, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
• Aug. 14 at Willow Oak Baptist Church in Walnut Cove, from 3 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
• Aug. 22 at Pine Hall Elementary School in Pine Hall, from 3 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
• Aug. 28 at Trinity United Methodist Church in King, from 2 p.m. until p.m.
To schedule an appointment to give, prospective donors can use the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
The Red Cross has added more than 25,000 extra appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate increased donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to give blood.
Blood shortages often worsen around Independence Day due to fewer volunteer-hosted blood drives at places of work, worship or community gatherings, and this year is no exception, Red Cross officials say.
Nearly 700 fewer drives are scheduled during the July 4 week than the weeks before and after the holiday.
Overall, the summer months are among the most-challenging times of year for blood and platelet collections due to regular donors delaying giving while they vacation and participate in summer activities.
In a recent survey of Red Cross blood donors, more than 73 percent indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the weeks before and after Independence Day.
New donors and those who haven’t given in a while are especially encouraged to roll up a sleeve and help save lives, officials say.
Nearly one-third fewer new blood donors came out to give last summer than during the rest of the year due in part to schools – where blood drives are held and new donors give – being out of session during the summer months.
Every two seconds in the U.S., blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ-transplant procedures and persons receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals across the country.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.