The Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations and the organization will host several blood drives in the coming weeks.
A combination of factors have depressed the supply at a time when demand is increasing and despite an increase in donations following a plea in early July, Red Cross officials said donated blood is being shipped and used as fast as it’s being gathered.
“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour but can mean a lifetime for patients.”
Sean Inoue, a Sr. Account Manager with American Red Cross Blood Services said the summer is a hard time for donations in southern California. He said the local supply is dependent on student donors, both high school and college. During the summer months those donors are not available decreasing the supply. At the same time, the surge in summer travel increases the number of traumatic accidents that occur and hospitals often see an increase in scheduled surgeries during the season.
While those factors repeat annual, Inoue said the 2017 summer has been worse than usual.
“When we send out the critical request, it means we’re already at critically low levels and we want to focus on being proactive, not reactive,” he said.
The organization said they received about 61,000 fewer blood donations than needed in May and June, prompting an emergency call for donations in July.
Any and all donations are needed but there are specific blood types and products with additional demand. Donations of A-, B-, O- and O+ are of particular need as are platelet donations. Whole blood can be split into several parts and platelet only donations are valuable because the cells have a short shelf life, only 5 to 7 days.
Inoue said potential donors who know their blood type or who want to specify a platelet donation can make a specialized appointment but he encouraged everyone who wants to donate to attend a drive, even if only for educational purposes.
“Just come check out a blood drive,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear around needles and around giving blood but the number one reason people don’t give blood is because nobody asked them.”
Red Cross donations are used throughout the Los Angeles region and the nonprofit organization charges hospitals a fee equal to the cost of collecting the blood but the Red Cross does not profit from the donations.
A shortage in supply can endanger patients who have acute and/or ongoing needs.
Arthur Bourget was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2007 and required 28 blood and 34 platelet transfusions before he went into remission. During his second transfusion he had to wait eight hours for blood to arrive.
“One thing that I committed to my wife was that I was going to beat leukemia, no matter what, and I was going to do that,” said Bourget. “But what I wasn’t going to be able to do was survive without the blood that I needed.”
He has been a faithful advocate for blood donations ever since.
“If it wasn’t for the generosity of volunteer blood donors, I would not be here today,” he said. “My daughter would not have a father, and my wife would not have a husband. Thank you and please give blood. You may never know the life you have saved, but I guarantee they will never forget you.”
Inoue said organizations that want to help are critically important to solving the shortage.
“Sponsors and partners, any large businesses, any places that have locations where a lot of people gathers, community groups, property management companies, that’s providing an opportunity for people to donate,” he said. “That’s one of the things we need the most. To just find a location and a date for people to give blood, it’s a big one we’re working on.”
To schedule an appointment to donate, use the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.
As a special thank you, those who come out to give blood or platelets with the Red Cross July 26 through Aug. 31 will be emailed a $5 Target eGiftCard.
Eligibility requirements are available online but donors should bring identification, be at least 17 years old (or 16 with parental consent) and in good health. Height and weight requirements might apply to donors under 18.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities through Aug. 15
7/27/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tishman Speyer, 520 Broadway
7/28/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Community Center, 2500 Broadway
7/31/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Santa Monica Chapter, 1450 11th St
8/1/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Fairmont Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd
8/13/2017: 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., St. Monica Catholic Church, 701 California Ave
8/14/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Santa Monica Chapter, 1450 11th St
8/7/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Santa Monica Chapter, 1450 11th St
8/8/2017: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Lantana Media Campus CBRE, 3000 W Olympic Blvd, Suite 140
7/26/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., US Bank Tower, 633 W. Fifth Street, Suite 7000
7/26/2017: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Cahuenga Branch Library, 4591 Santa Monica Blvd
7/27/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library, 1623 N. Ivar Ave
7/28/2017: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Westside Pavilion, 10800 W. Pico Blvd
7/30/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., St Vincent Catholic Church, 621 West Adams Blvd
7/31/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., City of Los Angeles Personnel Department, 520 E. Temple Street
8/1/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Dependable Highway Express, 2555 E Olympic Blvd
8/14/2017: 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Los Angeles Police Department Olympic Division, 1130 S Vermont Avenue
8/3/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., Los Angeles Fire Station 5, 8900 Emerson Ave
8/7/2017: 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Los Angeles Police Department Olympic Division, 1130 S Vermont Avenue
8/8/2017: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Dutch LLC, 5301 S. Santa Fe Ave
7/25/2017: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., Leo Carrillo State Beach, 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy
West Los Angeles
7/27/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter, 11355 Ohio Ave
7/29/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter, 11355 Ohio Ave
8/5/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter, 11355 Ohio Ave
8/7/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter, 11355 Ohio Ave
8/10/2017: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter, 11355 Ohio Ave
8/12/2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., American Red Cross Greater Los Angeles Chapter,