Red Cross looks for more donations

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

Each day, the Red Cross needs 17,000 pints of blood for surgery candidates, cancer patients, accident victims, premature babies and patients with blood disorders around the nation. That number is becoming increasingly difficult to reach this summer, with June donations at their lowest since 1997.

“Because blood has a shelf life, there’s a constant need for blood,” said Elaine Hanson, executive director of Freeborn-Mower Chapter of Red Cross.

According to Red Cross Program Manager Sue Gonsior, blood shortages cause dire problems.

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“If blood products aren’t available then a surgeon has to postpone surgical procedures,” Gonsior said. “We are trying everything we can so it doesn’t get to that point.”

This June and July, the Red Cross received 50,000 fewer units nationwide than expected.

“Typically in June, July and August we see a decrease,” Gonsior said.

This summer, though, turnouts have been worse than usual.

“It’s just a good reminder that it’s summertime, and patients don’t get to take a break,” said Gonsior. “They still need blood.”

According to Hansen, although the blood shortage is a concern to the Red Cross and hospitals around the nation, it is unlikely to affect Austin locals.

“Bottom line, there’s an adequate supply locally, in Austin,” Hansen said.

Hansen said blood taken at a blood drive is shipped to a testing facility in St. Paul, where it is processed and exported to wherever there is a need, with local needs as first priority. In the north central district — the region containing Minnesota, western Wisconsin and eastern South Dakota — the Red Cross received 1,400 fewer units of blood last month than expected. According to Gonzior, people need to start making blood donations a regular habit.

“Thirty-eight percent of the population is eligible to donate, but only 8 percent do,” she said.

There are two more blood drives in Austin this month. The Red Cross is holding a drive at 9 a.m., July 29, and St. Edwards Catholic Church is holding one at 10:30 a.m., July 30.

To make an appointment, call the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767, or visit