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Health

Red Cross needs Type O donors in face of shortage

A student donates blood at a Streator High School blood drive in March 2017. Blood drives hosted by schools account for about 20% of blood donations received during the academic year, the American Red Cross reports. When the school year ends, blood donations decline.
A student donates blood at a Streator High School blood drive in March 2017. Blood drives hosted by schools account for about 20% of blood donations received during the academic year, the American Red Cross reports. When the school year ends, blood donations decline.

The American Red Cross reports a critical shortage of Type O blood and is seeking eligible donors, the organization announced in a news release. As a thank-you for helping replenish the blood supply, all donors who give blood now through Monday, June 10, will receive a $5 Amazon gift card via email.

The Red Cross reported this month it has less than a two-day supply of Type O blood available for emergency rooms. That equals six units of Type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed every day, the news release states.

Seven percent of the U.S. population has Type O negative blood, which is the "universal donor." It can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and also is critical in trauma situations.

“All blood types are urgently needed, but we’re facing a critical shortage of Type O blood – the blood group most needed by hospitals,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Blood Services, in a news release. “Because it’s vitally important for hospitals to have Type O blood available when every second counts, Type O donors are urged to donate now and make a point to donate often.”

The Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer Type O donations than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. Spring break schedules are known to decrease blood donations, and schools, including high schools and colleges, begin to host fewer blood drives in late spring as school years end. Because these drives account for about 20% of blood donations during the school year, fewer drives can also affect the blood supply.

Blood shortages are not uncommon and can have a direct impact on patient care, according the Red Cross.

Dr. Atif Shafqat, an oncologist and hematologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, says hospitals face consistent shortages of blood products year-round, causing some surgeons to delay elective procedures because of individual shortages.

“When I ask our blood bank director the toughest part of her job, she always tells me it is these shortages and how to deal with them,” Shafqat said in a news release.

Upcoming blood drives

• 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, St. Margaret's Hospital, 600 E. First St., Spring Valley.

• Noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, Illinois Valley Chapter Donation Center, 1530 Fourth St., Peru.

• Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 23, First Congregational United Church of Christ, 255 E. Bluff St., Marseilles.

• 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30, VFW, 1501 La Salle St., Ottawa.

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1, Saratoga Elementary School, 4040 N. Division St., Morris.

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 3, Illinois Valley Community Hospital office building, 1305 Sixth St., Peru.

• Noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, Illinois Valley Chapter Donation Center, 1530 Fourth St., Peru.

• Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, Carpenter's Local 174, 1001 Boyce Memorial Drive, Ottawa.

• 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, First Baptist Church, 1401 State St., Ottawa.

• 1:45 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 6, New Beginnings Baptist Church, 204 S. Monroe St., Streator.

• 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 7, Sheridan Fire Department, 405 N. Bushnell St., Sheridan.

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