Medford &

The American Red Cross is experiencing a sharp decline in donations and a corresponding drop in the blood inventory, according to Territory Representative Christina Dunlap. The Red Cross is asking all eligible donors to call and schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets as soon as possible.




Blood drives




In response, local Red Cross officials have hosted blood drives throughout the region.




Ashland's upcoming American Red Cross blood drives include:




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162; Thursday at Ashland Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from — to 6 p.m. The Church is located at 111 Clay Street. To schedule an appointment contact Christina at 842-4707.




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162; Friday at the Hardwired Building located at 340 A Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tree Star Inc. sponsors this drive. It is open to the public and appointments can be scheduled by contacting Eva Haberfeld at 201-0022. This is a Donor Express drive which means the Red Cross Collection Staff is limited and the drive shuts down for a lunch break. There are only a few open appointments so please call.




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162; Friday, July 6 at First Baptist Church from noon to 5 p.m. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543).




Donors may also visit to schedule an appointment online.




Several blood types are currently at a half day or less supply including the universal blood types O+ and O-, as well as A-, B-, and AB-. Type O donors are in especially high demand, as Type O blood is used during trauma and emergency situations when there is not enough time to determine a patient's blood type.




Shortages




"The Red Cross has experienced very poor blood donation levels over the past week and we must build the inventory going into the Fourth of July to prevent shortages after the holiday weekend," said Eric Brown, CEO of the American Red Cross Pacific Northwest Regional Blood Services.




The Red Cross traditionally sees a drop in donations during the summer months when donors become busy with vacations and other activities. However, the need for blood is constant and the Red Cross must increase blood donations over the coming week to avoid any impact on patient care. When the blood inventory reaches critically low levels, physicians and hospitals evaluate and potentially reschedule elective surgeries to keep their blood bank inventories available for emergency patient needs.




Donors must meet minimum age requirements (16-year-olds in Oregon need parental consent, 16- and 17-year-olds in Washington need parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be generally healthy. They can donate whole blood every eight weeks and platelets every three days or up to 24 times a year.




Across the country




A seasonal shortage of blood donations could leave hospitals in Oregon, Washington and Alaska with a dangerously low supply during the Fourth of July holiday, officials said.




Highway accidents tend to increase in summer, especially during the holiday, leading to increased demand for blood, said Clare Matthias, Northwest regional spokeswoman for the Red Cross.




"Preparedness is our mantra here at the Red Cross. And we're at the point where it's hard for us to be prepared," Matthias said.




The serious shortage started earlier than usual this year, so the agency has issued a "red alert" for all "negative" blood types and O-positive blood, types carried by more than half the U.S. population.




A red alert means the region has less than a half-day's supply of that type, compared with the three-day supply the Red Cross likes to keep on hand.




Blood supplies thin out every summer for several reasons, Matthias said.




Colleges and high schools, whose blood drives usually provide a fifth of the agency's collection, are out of session. Regular donors take vacations and skip a session. Vacations drain the blood supply when July 4 falls on a Wednesday, Matthias said, presumably because people take longer vacations.




The Red Cross is seeing early shortages in many parts of the country, said Stephanie Millian, director of biomedical communications for American Red Cross Blood Services. She said 15 of 36 blood-collection regions faced serious shortages on Monday.




The Red Cross will need more than 5,000 units in blood donations in the coming week to make up for the shortfall and the lower number of donations expected through early July, Matthias said.