Blood donations urgently needed

Published 9:26 pm Friday, January 13, 2017

The American Red Cross hopes local residents will take advantage of a second chance to roll up their sleeves and give blood next week.

In an effort to restock critically low blood supplies, the organization has scheduled a flurry of blood drives across Hampton Roads, said Bernadette Jay, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Mid-Atlantic region. Five blood drives will be held in Suffolk and Chesapeake’s Western Branch community in coming days.

The snow and icy roads that blanketed the Mid-Atlantic region – which includes Hampton Roads, Richmond and parts of North Carolina — earlier this week resulted in the cancellation of 39 blood drives, said Jay. That equates to more than 1,000 units of expected blood donations that went uncollected, she said.

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The blood drives in Suffolk will run from 2 to 7 p.m. Jan. 18, at Hillcrest Baptist Church, 1637 Holland Road, and 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at Southside Baptist Church, 917 Carolina Road.

People can give blood at Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd., from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 15 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 16. Cavalier Ford, at 4021 Portsmouth Blvd., will host another blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 19.

Blood and plasma donations historically dip in November and December because of donors’ hectic holiday schedules, according to Jay. Between the holiday and wintry weather, the Red Cross collected 37,000 fewer units of blood than needed in the last two months of 2016.

“The demand doesn’t stop because of the weather or the holidays,” Jay said. “Right now, blood and platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.”

Hampton Roads’ hospitals typically use a total of 500 to 700 pints of blood each day, Jay said. She noted that the Red Cross supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.

Nationwide, severe winter weather is to blame for the cancellation of approximately 100 blood drives, resulting in the loss of more than 3,100 units of blood last month, she said.

All blood types are needed, and the Red Cross is extending hours at donation centers nationwide to make the process as easy as possible for donors, Jay said.

Giving blood takes a little more than an hour, when you include time for paperwork and refreshments after donating, said Jay. She recommends that eligible donors schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).