Blood in short supply locally

bblair@therepublic.com

Plenty of local residents gave to Christmas causes and fund drives last month.

Now leaders need people to roll up their sleeves and give more personally — with their blood.

A blood shortage locally and nationally has spurred a call for help in recent days, said representatives from the Indiana Blood Center and the American Red Cross.

“A lot of this is driven by the time of year,” said Andrea Fagan, spokeswoman for the Indiana Blood Center, which regularly hosts donations and drives in Columbus. “When schools have not been in session for a while and donors are busy with other things, the blood supply frequently seems to dwindle.”

And with high school and college classes sometimes canceled in January because of snow and ice, the blood centers get hit even harder.

“So that makes it a tough time for all of us (in blood donations),” Fagan said.

The American Red Cross supply, including Indiana’s, also is affected, said Tiffany Taylor, external communications manager for the Tennessee Valley and River Valley Regions.

Busy holiday schedules in November and December contributed to about 1,700 fewer blood drives conducted across the country compared to the two previous months, which has resulted in about 50,000 fewer donations and reduced the blood supply, said Garry Allison, director of donor recruitment for the Red Cross River Valley Blood Services Region.

January is National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood donations during the winter — one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs.

Blood is needed in a variety of ways. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. requires a blood transfusion, according to the American Red Cross.

Premature babies often need blood in the first hours of life. Cancer patients sometimes require it daily during chemotherapy.

Type O negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types.

Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, Red Cross figures show that less than 10 percent actually do each year.

Ways to give locally
  • Go to donorpoint.org/donor/auth/signin to sign in or create a donor account via the Indiana Blood Center.
  • Go to Columbus Regional Hospital and give between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays, according to the blood center.
  • Walk in and give from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays at the American Red Cross office at 931 Repp Drive in Columbus.
  • Use the American Red Cross app to find ways to give.Text “BLOODAPP” to 90999 or download it from the App Store or the Google Play store.

Who is eligible to give blood?

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

For more information: redcross.org

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.