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Red Cross experiencing emergency levels of blood

June 29, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

As residents plan barbecues and weekend trips for the Fourth of July weekend, Red Cross officials are urging people, especially those with type O blood, to stop at a blood donation center.

As of Monday, June 28, the Greater Alleghenies Red Cross Regional Center was experiencing emergency levels of O-negative blood. The center only had 59 units of O-negative blood and 363 units of O-positive blood for approximately 100 hospitals in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the agency said.

Red Cross spokeswoman Rebecca Parsons said this is only half a day's supply. Red Cross officials prefer to have two units for every hospital.

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"We need to bulk up our blood supplies so that we can feel confident we can serve the needs of everyone," Parsons said.

Travel during the holiday increases the probability of accidents that would require blood transfusions, she said.

O-negative is a particularly important blood type because it can be safely transfused no matter what a person's blood type, Parsons said. O-positive can be transfused to any other positive blood type.

Greater Alleghenies Regional Medical Officer Dr. John B. Nobiletti asked all eligible donors to give blood.

Levels typically decrease after schools close for the summer because blood drives at school systems account for around 15 percent to 20 percent of blood donations, Parsons said.

Parsons said she knows that giving blood is probably "in the back of everyone's mind," but asked people to continue donating blood.

People age 17 and older, who weigh at least 105 pounds and are generally in good shape are eligible to donate blood every 56 days, Red Cross officials said.

Blood drives will be held in the area this week:

-- Today, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Western Maryland Hospital Center auditorium in Hagerstown.

-- Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m., at Valley Mall in Halfway.

-- Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m., at the American Red Cross center at 1131 Conrad Court, Hagerstown

-- Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Robinwood Medical Center off Robinwood Drive.

Local blood drive opportunities in the next week can be found at www.redcrosslife.org.

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