Local residents are urged to donate at the local blood drive today, noon to 6 p.m. at Brookville Baptist Church, Rt. 5 S., Big Bend.

The Red Cross is reporting a serious blood shortage.

Summer holidays tend to keep many donors away from donor centers and blood drives; however the need for blood remains constant.

A decline in donations can lead to dangerous blood shortages, potentially meaning that blood would not be available for patients depending on life-saving transfusions.

For most, blood donation is not an ordinary part of summer planning, however, while most people are planning a vacation, or just hoping to soak up some sun and enjoy the nice weather, the American Red Cross is asking local citizens to do something extraordinary this summer - give blood.

"Summer is one of the most difficult times for blood collection, and we often see shortages during this time of year. All blood types are needed, but particularly type O which is most often requested by hospitals," said John Hagins, CEO, of the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region.

"Declines in blood collection strain the current blood supply and also make it particularly difficult for the Red Cross to be prepared for future emergency needs. Each day, countless trauma victims, cancer patients, premature babies and surgical candidates rely on the availability of blood for transfusions, and as a community we need to be able to meet those needs."

Right now all blood types are needed, but there is currently a high demand for types O negative, B negative and A negative, and individuals with these blood types are being requested to make an appointment or walk in to the blood drive. Appointments may be made online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

High schools and colleges account for nearly 17% of Red Cross blood collections nationwide, and almost 30% locally. School closings in the summer are a key factor in the significant seasonal decline in blood donations. Vacations, travel, weather, and busy summer schedules are some of the other reasons donations decline.

Unfortunately, outdoor activities can sometimes lead to more accidents and busier emergency rooms. A single car accident victim could use as much as 100 units of blood, and in an emergency there is no time to wait. Approximately 900 blood donations are needed daily in the Greater Alleghenies Region to maintain an adequate supply for local hospitals.

There is no substitute for human blood, and volunteer donors are the only lifeline for patients in need of a transfusion. There are thousands of ordinary people in our community who will NOT make it a priority to donate blood this summer; the Red Cross asks if you will be one of the Extraordinary few who take the time to help lives.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with a signed parental permission form), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors younger than 19 years also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Members of the community are asked to call 1-800-RED CROSS immediately to schedule an appointment to donate at any American Red Cross Donor Center or community blood drive. Information about Regional Blood Donor Centers or community blood drive locations and times can be found at redcrossblood.org

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