Virginia American Red Cross experience emergency blood and platelet shortage

Virginia News
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(WFXR) — The American Red Cross is in need of donations as they experience emergency blood and platelet shortage.

According to the Red Cross, they need to collect 10,000 additional blood products each week to recover and meet hospital and patient needs.

The organization is looking for donors of all blood types, but especially type O. Since the recent surge in COVID cases across the nation, there has been a low turnout of blood donors. The Red Cross says that this has been the lowest level in years. When cases spiked in August, there was a decrease in blood donations by about 10 percent, even though blood product distributions remained strong.

The Red Cross states they haven’t seen inventory this low since 2015. Supply of types O positive and O negative blood dropped to less than half-day supply in August.

“Fall is typically a time when the blood supply rebounds as donors are more available to give than during the busy summer months, but this year has presented a unique and serious challenge,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer for the Red Cross. “While it’s clear the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our minds, the Red Cross asks the public to remember donating blood and platelets is essential to the many patients that rely on lifesaving transfusions every day.”

Blood donations can be given every 56 days. According to the Red Cross website, it takes roughly an hour and the blood is used to help trauma patients and people undergoing surgery.

There are also power red donation which is a concentrated dose of red cells and given to trauma patients, newborns and emergency transfusions during birth, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone suffering blood loss. The process takes about 1.5 hours. Blood types O positive, O negative, A negative, and B negative are ideal for this type of donation. You can donate every 112 days up to three times a year.

The Red Cross also takes platelet donations which are tiny cells in the blood that form clots and stop bleeding. Platelets can help with cancer treatments and organ transplant procedures and some surgical procedures. It takes roughly 2.5 – 3 hours. The Red Cross says A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive, and AB negative is ideal blood types. You can donate every seven days up to 24 times a year.

Plasma donations are also accepted at the Red Cross. According to the organization, AB plasma can be used to help in emergency and trauma situations to stop bleeding. People with AB positive, AB negative are ideal blood types for this donation. It takes roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes and you can donate every 28 days up to 13 times a year.

If you are planning on donating, the Red Cross has these helpful tips:

  • Make an appoinment
  • Eat a meal with iron-rich foods such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified ceareals or raisin
  • Get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of extra liquids.
  • Before donating platelets, don’t consume aspirin for two days before your appointment
  • Have a friend donate with you

On the day of your donation, you want to make sure you have a photo ID such as a donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification. You will want to provide a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Drink an extra 16 oz. of water, eat a healthy meal, wear a shirt with sleeves, and let them know which arm you prefer.

After you donate, the Red Cross has these tips:

  • Enjoy a snack
  • Drink an extra four glassses of liquids and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours
  • Keep the strip bandage on for several hours
  • Don’t do heavy lifting or vigorous exercise
  • Keep eating iron-rich foods
  • If you experience dizziness or lightheadedness — stop, sit down or lie down until you feel better, and avoid performing any activity where you could faint which could lead to injury

Besides the need for blood donations, the Red Cross is offering virtual classes to help get you prepared for any type of disaster. These classes are every Thursday throughout October and run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. as part of Fire Prevention Month.

For more information visit the American Red Cross website.

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