Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Critical Blood Shortage in Athens

by Julia Woehrle

It happens every year in the winter, but that doesn't make this blood shortage any less dangerous in Athens County. The Red Cross reports that O-negative supplies are down to less than a day. A blood drive at Ohio University's Baker Center helped to fill up the stocks again Tuesday.

Why the Shortage
Pamela Martino of the Athens Red Cross says there are mutliple reasons for the shortage, like the flu and fear of needles or giving blood. Martino says "Only 5% of the people who are eligible to give blood, give blood." But she says patients who need another person's blood cannot wait until the cyclical shortage is over.

Increasing Donations
The Red Cross in Athens has organized more blood drives in the coming weeks. The Red Cross is calling former donors in advance to ask them to give their blood once again. The process may seem scary to some, but is actually safe and easy. Donor Kelly Martin says, "It's really very simple."

Kelly Martin explains the donation process

O Negative Need
People whose blood type is O negative are especially important for the drives: their blood type makes them universal donors and the supplies are down to less than one day. Kelly Martin also donated blood yesterday and says, "I'm O positive, and believe there are many people in the community who are O positive. So I'm a popular blood type."

Saves Lives
Pamela Mortino of the Red Cross stresses that donating blood actually is a gentle process and it really helps to save lives. "For every unit of blood a person donates, it can save the life of 3 people," she explains. Athens residents who are interested in donating blood can schedule an appointment online or call 1-800-448-3543. For a list of upcoming blood drives, just click here.

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