In an effort to build the blood supply, the American Red Cross is appealing to all eligible donors to make a donation of whole blood or platelets in the next two weeks. Because of decreased donation levels in recent weeks, the local Red Cross has not been able to meet collection goals. If donation numbers continue at such low levels, the Red Cross risks not being able to meet patient need.
The Red Cross currently has a critical need for O negative blood as levels are below a one-day supply. Inventory levels of all negative blood types and O positive blood are below a two-day supply. A five- to seven-day supply is optimal to ensure blood is available for hospitals.
"Holiday weekends can be an especially difficult time for us to collect blood," said Lisa Kustka, director of manufacturing for Red Cross Blood Services. "With supplies already so low, the Labor Day weekend could have a big impact on the blood supply and make it very difficult for us to get hospitals the blood they need. Anyone who is eligible should make it a priority to donate blood."
All blood types are needed, but type O donations are especially important. Type O negative blood can be given to any patient regardless of their blood type and type O positive can be given to any donor with a positive blood type, so it is often used in emergency situations when there isn't time to determine the patient's blood type.
Blood is a perishable resource. Whole blood can only be stored for 42 days and platelets for five, so donations are constantly needed to replenish the blood supply. Donors are encouraged to donate multiple times during the year to ensure a stable, secure supply, according to Red Cross officials.