South Carolina blood donors are being urged to roll up their sleeves and donate in the wake of a shortage across the state and nation.
Red Cross officials say blood reserves are significantly down following a recent drop-off in donations and could put the agency in an emergency situation in the coming weeks.
Donations through the South Carolina Blood Services Region – which covers the state and parts of Georgia – were down 15 percent from what was expected during the past 11 weeks, resulting in a shortfall of 3,084 units. That compares with an 8 percent drop in donations nationally during the same time, or about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.
“The trend that is happening nationally is the same one that we are experiencing here locally,” said Red Cross spokeswoman Krystal Overmyer.
The drop is being attributed, in part, to the July 4 holiday falling on a Friday this year, which reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Red Cross officials said many regular sponsors did not hold drives because people either took vacations over the long weekend or the entire week.
In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared with the 3,450 drives held during the July 4 weekend.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed.
There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients and must be transfused within five days of donation.
“Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they’re relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead,” said Ryan Corcoran, community CEO for the Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region.
Donors must have a blood card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification. Individuals must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental permission), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. High school students and others 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
To donate, or for more information, call (800) 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.