Saturday, July 12


Holiday stymies blood donation;
shortages prompt alert   
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[JULY 12, 2003]  WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation's blood banks, represented by the American Association of Blood Banks, the American Red Cross and America's Blood Centers, are asking for immediate blood donations to boost already critically low blood supplies. Travel experts predicted that this Fourth of July weekend would be the most traveled in nine years, and as families vacation away from their jobs and homes, regular blood donations are down.

Going into the Independence Day holiday weekend, blood supplies were at their lowest point in several months -- the American Red Cross had only about a two-day supply of all blood types available -- and inventory has fallen even lower with the small number of donations given over the holiday weekend.

Many of the nation's blood banks are suffering from low supplies as normal donors vacation this summer. Nearly all of the 36 Red Cross Blood Services regions have been asking for donations in their local communities in recent weeks. Despite these efforts, and the generosity of donors, a critical need for all blood types remains. All eligible donors are encouraged to call today to schedule a blood donation appointment.

"The fact that all blood organizations are joining in issuing this message underscores the importance of this matter," said Karen Shoos Lipton, CEO of the AABB. "We're asking eligible donors to schedule appointments to donate blood this summer."

The summer months are traditionally a challenging time for blood centers. During the school year, donations from high school and college students account for approximately 15 percent of blood collections. In the summer, these groups become much more difficult to collect from, even while the need for blood continues.

"Patients in hospitals around the country are depending on the immediate generosity of blood donors to get the lifesaving blood that they need," said American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans. "We want to be able to assure the public that we are doing everything possible to generate the donations that will sustain our blood supply. Blood needs to be on the shelves, in anticipation of need, and we can't do that without donors coming in."

Volunteer blood donations help patients being treated for accidents, in routine surgeries and with serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and hemophilia.

Giving blood is easy, safe and takes less than one hour, but only about 5 percent of the estimated 60 percent of eligible Americans donate blood. To donate blood, one must be healthy, at least 17 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more. Donations are critically needed.


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About the American Association
of Blood Banks

Established in 1947, the American Association of Blood Banks is an international association of blood banks, including hospital and community blood centers, transfusion and transplantation services, and individuals involved in activities related to transfusion and transplantation medicine. The AABB supports high standards of medical, technical and administrative performance, scientific investigation, clinical application and education. It is dedicated to encouraging the voluntary donation of blood and other tissues and organs through education, public information and research. AABB member facilities are responsible for collecting virtually all of the nation's blood supply and transfusing more than 80 percent.

Approximately 2,000 institutions (community and hospital blood banks, hospital transfusion services and laboratories) and 8,000 individuals are members of the AABB, including physicians, scientists, administrators, medical technologists, blood donor recruiters and public relations personnel. Members are located in all 50 states and 80 foreign countries.

About America's Blood Centers

Founded in 1962, America's Blood Centers comprise North America's largest network of nonprofit community blood centers. More than 450 ABC centers operate in 45 states and the Canadian province of Quebec. The centers provide more than half of the U.S. volunteer donor blood supply and nearly one-quarter of Canada's volunteer donor blood supply. These centers serve more than 140 million people and provide blood products and services to more than 3,300 hospitals. ABC members are licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is dedicated to saving lives, easing suffering and restoring hope at home and around the world. Currently operating on a budget of $2.7 billion, the Red Cross annually mobilizes relief to the victims of more than 67,000 disasters nationwide. The American Red Cross provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply to patients in 3,000 hospitals nationwide. Call 1 (800) GIVE-LIFE today to schedule your lifesaving donation or to sponsor a blood drive.

[Joint news release from America's Blood Centers, American Association of Blood Banks
and the American Red Cross]

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