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American Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage and issued an emergency call seeking platelet and blood donors.

Over the period between Christmas and New Year's Day, the Red Cross collected about 27,000 fewer donations across the country than needed, according to American Red Cross spokesperson Rodney Wilson. There were about 1,300 fewer blood drives over the holidays than during normal weeks, Wilson said.

"Many businesses, churches and schools that might hold blood drives, that's a time where they are not hosting," he said. "People are off and busy doing other things."

For the northern district of Ohio, which includes Ashtabula County, there were 300 fewer donations than needed, Wilson said. The central district received 900 fewer donations and Toledo got about 150 fewer donations.

"When we have a decline in blood donations it could compromise patient care," Wilson said. "Ideally, we want to have enough blood available for routine medical issues and also any emergency medical issues that might come up."

When there is a shortage, Wilson said, hospitals might prioritize patients with the most pressing medical needs while those requiring blood for elective surgeries might be postponed.

"That's not an ideal situation and we want to be prepared for any medical situation that could arise," Wilson said.

Officials from University Hospitals in Geneva and Conneaut said the shortage has not affected them. They receive blood from the UH blood bank at the UH Cleveland Medical Center, though they are working with the American Red Cross to schedule blood drives.

"We have not received notification of a blood shortage at the blood bank," Marcella Pokorny, UH Blood Band manager, said. "Winter is always a time when donations drop due to weather and sickness. We are not experiencing difficulty with obtaining blood inventory at this time."

Ashtabula County Medical Center also said the shortage has not hurt them as of now.

"We are not currently affected, but that does not mean we will not see an impact in the future. The total number of donors is down significantly nationwide, while the need remains constant," said Dana Skaggs, ACMC laboratory director.

ACMC has a blood drive scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 31.

Wilson said donors might not realize how quickly their blood will be used.

"We don't often think about where the blood goes," Wilson said. "When you donate blood, typically within five days of your donation it's being transfused to a patient. When you give blood you are literally helping to save someone's life."

All eligible donors, especially those with type O blood, are urged to schedule appointments to help restock shelves for hospital patients. Donors can visit or call 800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.

Upcoming blood drives in the county
Jan. 21 from 2-7 p.m. at Assumption Church , 594 W. Main St., Geneva
Jan. 21 from 1:30 to 7 p.m. at Kinsman Presbyterian Church, 6383 Church St., Kinsman
Jan. 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ken State University, 3300 Lake Road West, Ashtabula
Jan. 25 from 1-6 p.m. at the Northwest Ambulance District, 1480 S. Broadway Ave., Geneva
Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ashtabula Towne Square, 3315 N. Ridge Road East, Ashtabula Tonwnship

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