The American Red Cross is always seeking new ways to appeal to would-be blood donors — the “Missing Types” campaign is the latest.
It has been announced for Surry County and other locations as part of an international effort to illustrate a critical shortage of supplies.
“We currently have an urgent need for blood,” reported Lynn Wilkes of the Carolinas Blood Services Region in Winston-Salem, which includes Surry. All types are needed.
On Tuesday, Wilkes announced a schedule for local blood drives for the remainder of June in conjunction with the Missing Types campaign.
Through that program, launched Monday, the letters A, B and O — denoting the main blood groups — will disappear from brands, social media pages, signs and websites to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.
Many people might not realize just how important these three letters can be until they are gone, explain Red Cross officials. And they are hoping the campaign will encourage new blood donors, as well as those who have not given in years, to roll up their sleeves and help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for patients in need.
“Every day thousands of patients across the United States rely on generous blood donors for critical blood transfusions,” Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern said in a statement.
“However, we have seen a troubling decline in the number of new blood donors,” McGovern added. “We urge the public to roll up a sleeve and fill the missing types before these lifesaving letters go missing from hospital shelves.”
New Red Cross donors have been shrinking at the rate of about 80,000 annually for the past four years, along with the blood donor base overall.
This could partly be due to misconceptions about blood needs, with a recent survey revealing a troubling disconnect between the public’s perception of blood donations and the realities of patient transfusion needs:
• Most people perceive that blood is needed in the U.S. every 15 minutes or even every hour or two hours, when in fact someone in the country requires it every two seconds.
• Forty-five percent of the population knows someone who has been helped by a blood transfusion, yet only 3 percent donate each year.
• More than one-third (35 percent) of the public has never considered that blood might not be available when they or a loved one are in need.
• Fifty-three percent of the population believes they need to know their blood type to donate, but in reality, potential donors aren’t required to know that before giving. After individuals do so, the Red Cross provides their types.
Prospective donors are encouraged to join the international #MissingType movement and make an appointment to give by visiting redcrossblood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Blood-collection efforts for the rest of June locally include these locations and schedules:
• An Elkin community blood drive Monday from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the Elkin Rescue Squad building at 946 N. Bridge St.
• June 21, 2 to 6:30 p.m., Mt. Pilot Drug, 119 W. Main St., Pilot Mountain.
• June 22, 2:30 to 7 p.m., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 100 Windsor Drive, Dobson.
• June 24, 12:30 to 5 p.m., Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 Highway 21, State Road.
• June 29, noon to 4:30 p.m., Lowe’s Home Improvement, 692 S. Andy Griffith Parkway, Mount Airy.
• June 29, 3 to 7:30 p.m., Brown Mountain Baptist Church, 2269 N.C. Highway 66-North, Westfield.
• June 30, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Level Cross United Methodist Church, 4080 Siloam Road, Dobson.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required when checking in at a drive. In most areas, individuals who are 17 years old (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health can be eligible to give blood.
High school students and other donors 18 and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.