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Blood supply levels critically low

July 14, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

Dangerous blood shortages continue to plague regional blood supply centers and have reached a national record low.

American Red Cross officials urge all eligible donors to visit a local blood donation center as all blood levels, especially type O, are at dangerous or emergency lows.

Shaun E. Adamec, marketing communications manager for the Red Cross, said the blood shortage is one of the most severe of all time.

Summer weather, vacations, the recent Fourth of July weekend and schools being closed are the chief reasons the blood supply is so low, Adamec said.

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"First and foremost, we're issuing an appeal, an appeal to all eligible donors in all regions to give blood," he said.

Adamec said some regions do not even have one day's supply of blood.

The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region that includes Maryland, northern Virginia and some sections of Pennsylvania, and the Greater Alleghenies Region that includes counties in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, are experiencing shortages of O-negative and A-negative blood.

O-negative is important because it can be transfused to a person with any other blood type, said Jennifer Mansfield, a public relations specialist for the Greater Alleghenies Region.

She said the shortages of A-negative blood are equally important because patients with A-negative blood can only receive A-negative or O-negative blood. With both those types in short supply, Mansfield said Red Cross officials are concerned that they might not be able to provide appropriate care for such patients.

Red Cross officials appealed to eligible donors to find time to give blood. Officials said they are expanding blood donation center operating hours and blood drive opportunities on the Grateful Life Tour, a "fun" tour "that's bringing back the '60s" to give people more chances to give blood.

Donors must be 17 years old, weigh at least 105 pounds and be in generally good shape. Blood may be donated every 56 days. Local blood drives and schedules can be found at redcrosslife.org on the Web. Prospective donors can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment.

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