DALLAS, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We know a healthy blood supply is needed to help save lives but that need is as great as ever lately. The American Red Cross is dealing with a nationwide blood shortage.
Typically this time of year we hear about blood donations lagging. But now, the American Red Cross says there’s a critical need for blood. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller visited a blood drive Thursday afternoon where donors tried to help offset the shortage.
As a man reclined on a blood donor table, an American Red Cross worker said, “So, you’re going to squeeze this on and off a few times. Just gently pump on and off.”
The large turnout of donors at Daddow-Isaacs Dallas American Legion Post is what’s been sorely lacking lately. When donor Robert Duris was asked if he was aware there is a current national shortage of blood, he replied: “Well, we get the emails, yeah.”
Mr. Duris is like a lot of donors who showed up at the drive to give blood once every eight weeks. The American Red Cross could use more like them. While the organization braces each year for fewer donors during the busy holiday season, it’s been dealing with a double whammy.
Blood donor Mark Holtzman said, “Well, I was sick last month.”
Illness, in particular, the flu bug, bit hard which contributed to fewer donations and a critical need for all blood types.
“We were down to actually a three day supply which is very critical,” said American Red Cross Northeastern PA Chapter Executive Director Bill Goldsworthy.
The most critically needed blood type? Type O.
Mr. Goldsworthy said, “It’s the universal donor for blood and that can be used for anybody. It doesn’t matter if you have A, B, AB. It doesn’t matter what you have. The O can be used in your body.”
A single blood donation can potentially save up to three lives. Donor blood is especially needed during cancer and heart procedures. In some instances, the shortage is interfering with patient care. Mr. Duris can’t think of a good reason why more of us don’t donate.
“It doesn’t hurt. There’s no pain. That’s all. And some people are afraid to see their blood so don’t look at it,” he said.
Some donors give because at one time or another a loved one needed blood. But that’s not why Mr. Holtzman gives the gift of life.
“Nothing happened in my family but there’s always somebody,” as he described the need.
It’s not just blood that’s needed. So are blood platelets. While blood can be given every eight weeks, platelets can be donated every three weeks. Type AB platelets are most in demand.