By Katelyn Gendron
GREATER SPRINGFIELD The word "emergency" is not one that is used casually at the American Red Cross, which is why its use to describe the country's current need for blood should be taken very seriously.
"This is the first appeal of its kind in 2012. It truly is an emergency situation. We've never used an 'emergency call [for donations]' in the two and a half years I've been here," Jecoliah Ellis, communications manager of the Massachusetts Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross told Reminder Publications. "We have almost half the amount of readily available blood in our inventory as compared to the same time last year. We need more donations and are urging people who can give to do so now."
The Red Cross received 17,000 units (pints) of blood across the nation each day, Ellis explained, noting that the agency collected 100,000 units in June 2011 but only collected 50,000 this June.
"In June across the nation [we received] 50,000 units less than expected and to make matters worse the mid-week holiday with Independence Day many of our donor partners were closed for business [and blood drives] so heading into July we're already behind," she added.
The floods in the Southeast and the wildfires in the Midwest have also led to the shortage causing numerous blood drives to be cancelled, Ellis noted, adding that all blood types are needed, however, O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative are required most of all.
"Blood must be available at a moment's notice when seconds count to help save or sustain a life. We have reached an emergency situation and the blood will not be there without the immediate response of volunteer blood donors," Donna Morrissey, director of communications for the Red Cross Blood Services Northeast Division, said. "The Red Cross relies upon generous blood donors so we can supply blood when and where it is needed. Right now, patients in hospitals across the country need you to roll up your sleeve and give the gift of lifesaving blood."
When asked if blood donations would be distributed to local hospitals, Ellis replied, "The Red Cross believes in 'blood without boarders' and that blood is available whenever and wherever it's needed. That's what makes the national system so efficient [but] we first meet the needs of area hospitals."
This month, donors will get a free carton of Friendly's Ice Cream.
For more information, call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org.
The following is a list of blood drives taking place throughout the region this month.
|5/20-8/30||Summer Internships at Playhouse on Park|
|7/1-7/31||Ballroom Dance Lessons|
|7/21 (5 days)||East Granby Congregational Church Vacation Bible School|
|7/21 (5 days)||St. Mark's Episcopal Church Vacation Bible School|
|7/23||At Home in the Woods Summer Camps|
|7/23||Ramp Up Your Health & Vitality!|
|7/24||At Home in the Woods Summer Camps|
|7/24||Summer Jazz Workshops @ CMSS: Adult Big Band & Youth Jazz Band|
|7/24||Autism Speaks Walk Kick-Off at Holyoke Children's Museum|
|7/24||Free Program for Veterans|
|7/24||Starting Your Business SCORE workshop|