Blood Supplies Low

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Last weekend the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross announced a 'blood emergency.' The group strives to collect 750 units of blood daily. They've been averaging around 600, and have hovered 15-percent below their goals for nine months.

Supplies of O-negative and O-positive are at less than a one day supply for many of 69 hospitals serviced by the Great Lakes Region. Fred Sterns, CEO for the Region, says one serious accident with a large number of victims could wipe out that supply.

Sterns says people are off vacationing and don't think about donating during the summer. He also says because of the high number of traffic accidents and other summer incidents, this is when blood is needed the most.

While there have been no impacts yet, Sterns says that if donations don't improve (and for the last nine months, they haven't), some scheduled surgeries may have to be cancelled.

For more information on how and where you can go to donate blood call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

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Facts About Blood Donation

How much blood is collected and transfused each year?

About 13.9 million units of whole blood are donated in the United States each year by approximately eight million volunteer blood donors. These units are transfused to about 4.5 million patients per year.

Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as whole blood, is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.

Each component is generally transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

The need for blood is great. On any given day, approximately 32,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood.

Approximately 26.5 million units of blood components are transfused each year.

Who donates blood?

Less than five percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood, actually donate each year.

According to studies, the average donor is a college-educated white male, between the ages of 30 and 50, who is married and has an above-average income.

However, a broad cross-section of the population donates every day. Furthermore, these average statistics are changing, and women and minority groups are volunteering to donate in increasing numbers.

While persons 65 years and older compose 13 percent of the population, they use 25 percent of all blood units transfused. Using current screening and donation procedures, a growing number of blood banks have found blood donation by seniors to be safe and practical.

Patients scheduled for surgery may be eligible to donate blood for themselves, a process known as autologous blood donation. In the weeks before non-emergency surgery, an autologous donor may be able to donate blood that will be stored until the surgical procedure.

Where is blood donated?

There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles travel to high schools, colleges, churches and community organizations.

People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their place of work.

Community blood centers collect approximately 88 percent of the nation's blood, and hospital-based donor centers account for the other 12 percent.

Source: Association of Blood Banks.