American Red Cross Faces Blood Shortage
Since the 4th of July weekend, the American Red Cross is in an emergency appeal, meaning that they are asking anyone who is willing and able to give blood to head to the nearest donation center.
“We try to make sure that we ensure that there is blood on the shelves for the patients in need. We don’t want to get to the point where they are cancelling surgery’s because there just isn’t blood available,” said Tracy Nelson, Account Manager with American Red Cross.
The blood shortage has not gotten to that point yet, but the trend for donating this summer is lower than it should be.
“We usually do see an appeal in the summer time, but this one is very scary as it is so low. We are trying to get the word out for people to come in and donate,” Nelson said.
For now, doctors must get special approval to receive certain blood types.
“We still do need permission to ask for additional type O both RH positive and negative to come into our inventory,” said Dr. Thomas Ortmeier, Medical Laboratory Director at St. Joseph’s Essentia Medical Center.
Even though nationally the Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, donors in central Minnesota are very reliable in times of need.
“I think we are the luckiest; we have such great donors especially in the Brainerd Lakes area. They are very loyal and they are responding. The sign ups for that drive are increasing daily by lots of numbers so that is great. We are seeing the trend of everybody wanting to help out,” Nelson said.
The efforts from local donors that continue to come out and help the cause have not gone unnoticed.
“I’m comfortable that we are going to have a supply. American Red Cross – they’ve actually written us letters saying, ‘you guys are great, thanks for doing such a great job getting donors.’ They recognize that we are trying to help them supply other people as well,” Dr. Ortmeier said.
The next community blood drive is on July 28th at the National Guard Armory in Brainerd, where people are already beginning to sign up in order to fill the need.
“It’s nice to be part of a community like this that really supports everyone,” said Dr. Ortmeier.