A critical blood shortage has been announced by the American Red Cross, especially for Type O blood.

In a news release from the Red Cross, eligible donors are urged to give blood to help patients facing trauma and other life-threatening situations.

"As a thank you for helping replenish the blood supply, all donors who come to give blood now through June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email," said American Red Cross external communications director Jan Hale. "Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of Type O blood available for emergency rooms, where it can be most critical."

According to the Red Cross, six units of Type O blood are available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed every day.

What makes Type O-negative blood unique is that it can be transfused to any patient with any blood type.

"It is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type," said Hale. "Type O-positive blood is the most transfused blood type and is also critical in trauma situations."

A list of local and area blood drive times and dates follows.

Ford County, Dodge City: noon to 6 p.m. May 28 and 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 29 at the Senior Center, 2408 Central Ave.

Kiowa County, Greensburg: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 17 at United Methodist Church, 600 W. Lincoln St.

Finney County, Garden City: 1 to 7 p.m. May 21 and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 22 at the Community Congregational Church, 710 N. 3rd St., and 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 6 at St. Dominic Catholic Church, 615 JC St.

Pratt County: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 24 and 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 31 at Pratt Community Building, 619 N. Main St.

Gray County: Cimarron; 2 to 6:30 p.m. June 4 at the Gray County Rec Center, 17002 Highway 50.

Kiowa County: noon to 6 p.m. June 7 at the Kiowa Community Building, 119 S. 5th St.

Meade County: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 7 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Forst Center, 500 W. Carthage St.

About 11,500 fewer Type O blood donations were collected by the Red Cross than what is needed for a sufficient blood supply.

"Since we are three hours away from our blood supplier (American Red Cross), we try to keep a well-stocked blood bank with all types available," said Western Plains Medical Complex laboratory director Debbie Bush. "When supplies are low, we may not be able to keep our supply at the levels we normally stock to.

"There have been times when we did not have certain low frequency blood types, such as AB-negative or O-negative, on the shelf due to the decreased blood availability from Red Cross."

According to Bush, O-negative blood is generally harder to keep on hand when supplies are low.

There have been situations at WPMC where O-negative units of blood in the blood bank were unavailable, could only be received with an order to transfuse and then transportation for the blood had to be made to the hospital.

"We haven’t faced a situation where a patient suffered or died due to lack of availability of blood here at WPMC," Bush said. "The Red Cross works hard to keep us stocked to the best of their ability, considering their available supply.

"The staff here at WPMC keep a constant eye on the blood levels in our blood bank and reorder as often as needed to keep safe levels on hand to serve the needs of our patients here in Western Kansas.

"We get re-supplied at least weekly, more often if needed. Red Cross has a pool of volunteer drivers willing to courier blood out to us when needed.

"In a life-and-death situation, we work with Kansas Highway Patrol to expedite transportation of blood to us. That being said, I would encourage all eligible blood donors to consider donating blood on a regular basis."

If anyone is interested in hosting a blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org/hostadrive.


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.