A national shortage of blood donations is being felt in Northeast Tennessee.
“It’s a combination of people doing more high-risk activities during the summertime and people taking summer vacations,” Don Campbell, director of Marsh Regional Blood Center, said Monday.
He also said overall blood usage is up 47 percent. The recent tornadoes and other severe weather are other causes of the local shortage of donated blood.
“If a blood drive was scheduled in an area where there was a storm, obviously that drive has been canceled,” said Gwen Hunter with the American Red Cross. “With the injuries people suffered, the need went up a little and supplies went down. We lost hundreds and hundreds of units.”
Certain blood types are in higher demand than others.
“Blood types O negative and A negative are needed most, but all blood types are welcome,” Campbell said.
There is a dire need for donations from people with blood type O negative, because this specific blood type can be safely given to people with all blood types.
“This is the blood type used in cases of trauma,” Hunter said.
Johnson City Medical Center Communications Manager Teresa Hicks said that there was an across-the-board need in departments for additional blood donations at JCMC.
Marsh Regional Blood Center provides blood donations to 22 hospitals in the area. “One hundred percent of the blood donated in the area stays in the area,” Campbell said.
The Red Cross has the ability to transport blood to other areas.
“The local community receives donations first and then the areas which have the most need,” Hunter said.
With blood donors in short supply, organizations are doing all they can to encourage donations. Red Cross blood drives are staying open an hour later than usual to allow for more donation time. Marsh Regional Blood Center started a program called the Red Cord Honor Program for high school students. If a student donates blood six times before they graduate, they receive a red cord to wear during honors day.
High school summer vacation also accounts for a portion of the blood shortage.
“Our high schools provide 20 percent of our donations,” said Campbell.
Both organizations are entering donors into drawings for gift cards.
The Red Cross Johnson City Blood Donation Center, 818 Sunset Drive, collects donations Mondays from 2:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the first and second Thursdays of each month from 2:30 to 7 p.m. and the third Saturday of each month 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Information on upcoming blood drives can also be obtained by entering your zip code at www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation. Hunter also requests that anyone wishing to set up a blood drive in their area call her at 202-5619.
The collection center for Marsh Regional Blood Center in Johnson City, 1 Professional Park Blvd., Suite 14, accepts donations Mondays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A calendar with blood drives occurring in the next month and information setting up blood drives in the area can be obtained from marshblood.com.