Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood and Platelet Donations

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- A moment of your life could save someone else's. We hear that a lot, but this time may be different.

The Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood donations on Tuesday. They say the summer's are always challenging, but this summer could be worse than usual.

Not everyone is as committed as Richard Olson, an experienced blood donor that's given more than 20 gallons of blood in his lifetime.

"It's a year round thing. I try to come as often as I can because it's something important to do," said Olson.

Nationwide, donations through the Red Cross were down approximately 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,00 fewer donations than expected.

Red Cross Spokesman, Todd Kulman, says June can be among the most challenging months of the year as regular donors delay giving while they adjust to summer schedules. High school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of Red Cross donations during the school year. Donations from those who usually give at these drives drop by more than 80 percent when school is out for the summer.

The emergency call is asking for ALL donors.

"We need donors of all blood types. Especially A negative, B negative, and O negative," said Kulman.

Locally the Red Cross isn't doing any better than the nation. The Greater Lakes Blood Region needs 650 donors to step forward each day. While the exact numbers aren't known, Kulman says they're no where near what they need.

"The need for blood never takes a holiday or vacations as a lot of Michiganders do. Who can blame them, but I think we need to educate folks that the need for blood is constant."

The Red Cross isn't only in need of blood donations, they need platelet donations as well. Lansing is one of the two donation centers in the whole state that takes platelet donations.

"It's one of those things that Leukemia and cancer patients need. It helps the blood clot. When you don't have that you can imagine what happens."

Platelets have a shelf life of just five days, and those who donate need to be able to put aside a least three hours. It's a lengthy process of drawing the blood, separating the platelets, and putting the blood back in.

But time wasn't a problem for Olson, on Monday is was one of the few to donate platelets on Tuesday. He says he's just happy to be helping out those in need.

"It's such a great benefit to people you don't even know. I don't know why more people don't do it."

This chapter of the Red Cross covers 65 counties. Walk-ins are welcome, but it can be helpful to schedule an appointment for donations.

To find a donation center click on the link at the bottom of this story.

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