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Editorial: Donors needed to ease blood supply shortfall

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Schools days, high school basketball games and wrestling matches aren’t the only schedules to be thrown a curveball this winter.

Snow, ice and frigid temperatures also have canceled potentially lifesaving blood drives.

Since Jan. 2, more than 1,000 Red Cross blood drives in 34 states and Washington, D.C., were canceled, resulting in about 35,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations, the agency said.

All of those cancellations is the equivalent of the Red Cross closing its national operations for more than two full days, or the loss of 30,000 units of blood.

“On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day to help patients nationwide,” said Tim Ryerson of the Red Cross River Valley Blood Services Region in Louisville, Ky., which serves southern Indiana. “Regardless of the weather, patients are counting on blood products to be there when needed.”

Donations in January were down about 10 percent nationally when you average typical January donations since 2011, the agency said. Blood products are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations come in because supplies are so low.

All blood types are needed to help restock shelves, but there is an urgent need for type O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative blood. Type O negative is universal and can likely be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to patients with either Rh positive or negative blood.

Platelets, a clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, also are urgently needed, the agency said. Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed.

You can help ease the shortages by donating your blood and platelets. There are three blood donation opportunities scheduled in the area this month:

From 7 a.m. to noon Friday at Classroom 1 of Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis, 8111 S. Emerson Ave.

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Southport Presbyterian Church, 7525 McFarland Blvd., Indianapolis.

And from 2 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at Beeson Hall of the Franklin Cultural Arts and Recreation Center, 396 Branigin Blvd., Franklin.

To donate, visit donorpoint.org to make an appointment or for information.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. If you are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health, you may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Do your part to help others in our community and elsewhere. Make the time to donate blood.

Donating a pint could save someone’s life.

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