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Amid blood shortage, Red Cross appeals for Augustans’ help

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 1:11 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The American Red Cross is declaring the first-ever national blood crisis amid the nation’s dangerously low blood supply — and Augusta residents can help fight the problem.

The crisis has forced doctors and hospitals to make tough decisions. The Red Cross says blood centers across the U.S. have reported less than a one-day supply for some blood types.

The Red Cross is Augusta is one of the local organizations that collects blood for use in local hospitals.

Instead of having a dedicated blood donation center, the local Red Cross holds blood drives at various locations around the area, local Director Susan Landreth-Everitt said. It has several drives planned in coming weeks, including at Sacred Heart Cultural Center and Augusta Technical College.

She said potential donors can visit https://www.redcrossblood.org and type in their ZIP code to find a drive near them and make an appointment.

Nationally, the Red Cross is also offering incentives. If you donate by the end of the month, you will be entered in a raffle to win a trip to the Super Bowl and have a chance to win a home theater package and a $500 gift card.

That is, if saving lives isn’t a good enough reason for you.

“I give blood every couple of months just to help out,” said Jonathan Spoerke, a Georgia blood donor.

It’s a good thing Spoerke is stepping up to help.

“I actually started when the coronavirus started picking up,” continued Spoerke. “It kind of became a habit for me to give blood. It was something I could do to help out the community.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are fewer blood drives, leaving the shelves bare at blood banks.

One professional called it the worst shortage she had ever seen, driven by problems with holding the blood drives that have been a traditional source of donations.

“We are in a position where the blood is really leaving the shelves as fast as we can collect it,” said Baia Lasky, a regional medical director for the Red Cross in Georgia.

The demand isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

“There are a variety of patients that require a variety of blood and platelets every day, and that’s from the traumas, burn patients, individuals who are undergoing cardiac surgery, liver transplant, or any organ transplants, cancer patients, women who are hemorrhaging in labor and delivery, premature babies. We have a wide spectrum,” said Lasky.

This all puts doctors in a bind, having to choose who needs it more.

“So, this is very serious, and very concerning to us, this will have a significant impact on patient care,” said Lasky.

Other ways to donate blood

The Red Cross isn’t the only organization having problems finding blood donors.

Shepeard Community Blood Center — Augusta’s regional blood bank — is sending out a critical appeal for blood donations, specifically O positive and O negative, as well as platelets.

Augusta University Health is partnering with Shepeard to hold blood drives this week to help end this shortage.

AU mobile drives for this week include:

  • Jan. 12: Inside the Oak Hall dorms, 830 Spellman St. The drive will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. All donors will receive donor store points, an Amazon e-gift card and a voucher for an on-site food truck.
  • Jan. 14: Bloodmobile at the Georgia Cancer Center, 1411 Laney Walker Blvd. The drive will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All donors will receive donor store points, and an Amazon e-gift card.
  • Jan. 14: On a bloodmobile in the front of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, 1446 Harper St. The drive will run from 2-6 p.m. All donors will receive donor store points, and an Amazon e-gift card.

Donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be at least 17 years old (or 16 with written parental consent) to donate. Be sure to bring a photo ID or Shepeard donor card with you.

Call Shepeard at 706-737-4551 if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

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