Health organizations appeal for more blood donors

Blood donations are down across parts of the region, prompting an appeal for more donors.

The American Red Cross North Central chapter reports it has collected 1,400 fewer pints of blood in June and early July than expected. The chapter represents all of Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin and South Dakota.

The decline in donations is worrisome, but not unusual in the summer, Red Cross spokeswoman Sue Gonsior said.

"School is out of session. People are taking vacations over the 4th of July. So this is a very challenging time for us to collect blood," Gonsior said. "The trend that we were seeing made us realize that we needed to go for an appeal, so that we do have blood available the rest of the summer for patients that need it."

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Gonsior estimates that the local blood supply inventory is about 5 percent lower than usual. Nationwide, American Red Cross blood donations are down approximately 10 percent.

If the trend continues, she said some patients may experience treatment delays.

"Doctors could postpone elective surgeries or not be able to perform a surgery that needed a blood transfusion," Gonsior said. "We're trying to obviously do everything we can to avoid that kind of situation."

The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for platelets and blood of all types. Local officials say they especially need more types O negative, A negative and B negative blood. O negative blood is a universal donor type that can be transfused into any recipient. Types A and B negative can be transfused into patients who are Rh positive or negative.

The summer lull has not affected Memorial Blood Centers, which has nearly a dozen donation centers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"We are in a stable situation" spokeswoman Wendy Capetz said. "We don't anticipate that changing as long as our donors continue to support us, like they have."