Fireworks, hot dogs and parades were plentiful during the recent Independence Day period, but the same can’t be said for blood donations — leading to an “emergency” shortage being declared by the American Red Cross.
The organization is issuing an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O – to give now and help save lives. About a dozen blood drives are scheduled across Surry County for the rest of July, which officials hope will help alleviate the shortage.
It is occurring in the wake of a difficult Independence Day week for donations, according to Lynn Wilkes of the Carolinas Blood Services Region in Winston-Salem, which includes Surry.
More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday and enjoyed summer activities, based on information from Wilkes.
This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing supplies to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they are collected.
With the need especially critical for type O blood donors, officials explain that it is the most in-demand blood type and often the first depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage.
Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the type needed by patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any type.
Wilkes reported that the Red Cross has added about 6,500 more appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate extra donors.
Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to give.
To schedule an appointment to donate, one can use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
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.
Wilkes also has released a schedule of blood-collection events in this area for the remainder of July, which includes these days, times and locations:
• Monday, 2 to 6:30 p.m., The Community Church, 280 O’Neal Road, Mount Airy;
• Monday, 1:30 to 6 p.m., an Elkin-community drive at the Elkin Rescue Squad building, 946 N. Bridge St.;
• Tuesday, 1:30 to 6 p.m., the Boy Scouts’ Camp Raven Knob, 266 Raven Knob Road, Mount Airy;
• Wednesday, 2:30 to 7 p.m., Gentry Middle School, 1915 W. Pine St., Mount Airy;
• July 21, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Elkin, 429 CC Camp Road;
• July 23, noon to 4:30 p.m., a Pilot Mountain community drive at First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St.;
• July 27, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Prism Medical Products, 119 W. Main St., Elkin;
• July 28, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mount Airy Wesleyan Church, 2063 S. Main St.
• July 30, 1 to 5:30 p.m., Chick-fil-A, 2007 Rockford St., Mount Airy;
• July 31, 1:30 to 6 p.m., Dobson United Methodist Church, 204 S. Main St.;
• July 31, Ashley Rhoades Leaders Save Lives Scholarship Program drive, 1:15 to 5:45 p.m., Elkin Rescue Squad, 946 N. Bridge St.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.