Red Cross worries as blood supply dwindles

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

GREENVILLE – In a word, Ernie Smith is worried.

The local official with the American Red Cross (ARC) has seen blood supplies dip to dangerously low levels before, but the current crisis has him begging, even pleading, with citizens to please lend a helping hand – or in this case, a helping vein.

&uot;We are issuing an urgent call for blood donors,&uot; said Smith who works out of the ARC regional office in Greenville. &uot;We are in very short supply of blood, especially type O and A, but all types are needed.&uot;

Smith stated that in a few area hospitals, the current blood supply will not cover the needs of an entire 24-hour period.

&uot;Typically, our safest minimum level is a three-day supply,&uot; he noted. &uot;We have now reached the critical stage and we need your help in getting out the word that we need large turnouts at a few blood drives scheduled this month there in the Roanoke-Chowan area.&uot;

Those local blood drives are as follows:

N Thursday, Jan. 8 from 12 noon until 6 p.m. at Metal Tech in Murfreesboro, located on Broad Street.

N Sunday, Jan. 11 from 12 noon until 4 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Ahoskie.

N Wednesday, Jan. 14 from 12:30-6:30 p.m. at the Gates County Community Center, U.S. 158 east of Gatesville, adjacent to Gates County High School.

N Monday, Jan. 19 from 2:30-7 p.m. at Ridgecroft School, NC 11 north between Ahoskie and Murfreesboro.

N Tuesday, Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

&uot;People may be wondering why we have scheduled so many blood drives so close to each other over such a short period of time,&uot; stated Smith. &uot;Some may feel that one drive will affect the amount of blood we receive at another local drive.&uot;

Smith continued, &uot;Obviously, we have scheduled this many drives in an attempt to increase our dangerously low supplies. However, another reason is to make it convenient for more people to turn out in the areas in which the blood drives are being staged. We want to make it just as convenient as possible.&uot;

Smith said that the blood collected at one small drive could easily be used by one patient during one operation.

&uot;There’s someone out there waiting right now for an operation and they need blood to make it a successful operation,&uot; he stressed. &uot;Worldwide, someone needs blood every two seconds of every day. That person may be a small child, a cancer patient or an elderly person. Or it could be you or someone you know.&uot;

According to national data, the ARC saw a steady decline in blood donations throughout the country during 2003 where only five percent of the eligible population took part in blood drives. Compound that fact with the current wave of flu, a virus that has eliminated thousands of potential donors, and one can easily see why supplies are dangerously low.

Anyone at least 17 years of age, weighing at least 110 pounds and in good health may give blood.

Those needing additional information can contact the ARC Regional office at 1-800-544-1819.