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Blood donors needed ASAP

The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood donors, which was answered by volunteers at Hillcrest Baptist Church this week.

Donors eagerly flowed into the fellowship hall at a steady pace Wednesday afternoon. Nurses got started at 2 p.m. and had accepted 19 donors by 4:15 p.m., according to charge nurse Kristjana Jenison.

“That’s almost 20 units in two hours. That’s a good pace,” she said.

Some were church members that just felt compelled to help out.

“I just feel like it’s the least I can do,” said church member Ruth-Ann Casey, 71.

Others were local volunteers like R.T. Dixon. A frequent donor, the 60-year-old Suffolk resident said he’d like to see more volunteers ages 30 and younger come out to these blood drives, and not just the older volunteers like him.

“If we don’t do it and the younger kids aren’t going to do it, then who is going to do it?” he asked.

The call for donors comes after the Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations around Christmas and New Year’s than what’s needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, External Communications Manager Bernadette Jay said on Tuesday.

According to Jenison, part of the loss is due to the lack of blood drives that are typically at federal offices that are now closed because of the ongoing, partial government shutdown.

Because of this deficit, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types on hand, which is well below the ideal five-day supply needed to respond to emergencies and hospital needs, Jay said.

She emphasized that units of blood only have a 42-day shelf life and that the need for fresh donations is constant. It’s not enough to say, “I gave blood last summer.”

“There’s always this revolving, constant need for donations,” she said.

Appointments can be scheduled by going online to redcrossblood.org, using the American Red Cross blood donor phone application or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

The following are upcoming blood donation opportunities in Suffolk, Windsor and the Western Branch area of Chesapeake.

Suffolk:

  • Jan. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 213 North Main St.
  • Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Virginia Department of Transportation, 7511 Burbage Drive

Windsor:

  • Feb. 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club House, 17011 Courthouse Highway

Chesapeake:

  • Jan. 25 from noon to 4 p.m. at First Team Toyota, 3400 Western Branch Blvd.
  • Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd.
  • Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Western Branch Community Center, 4437 Portsmouth Blvd.
  • Feb. 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at New Creation UMC Aldersgate Campus, 4320 Bruce Road
  • Feb. 10 from noon to 5 p.m. at Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd.