Local News: Red Cross Urgently Needs Blood Donations (7/9/24)

Caitlin Meal, a phlebotomist with the American Red Cross, right, relaxes as her arm is prepared to donate blood Monday, July 8, at the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Southeast District office in Sikeston. According to the Red Cross, there is currently a high demand for blood and platelet donors to support lifesaving transfusions this summer.

Gina Curtis/Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — With summer in full swing, the American Red Cross continues to spread the word that blood and platelet donors are in high demand right now to provide life-saving transfusions.

On Monday, July 8, the Red Cross hosted a blood drive at the Missouri Department of Transportation in Sikeston.

Amanda Joyce, biomedical services account manager at the American Red Cross, says patients in U.S. hospitals need about 44,000 units of blood each day.

“That’s basically 17 million donations or close to that many that are transfused to 5 million patients each year,” Joyce said. “The medical need is for transplant procedures such as liver transplants, heart transplants and open-heart surgery, bone marrow transplants, severe burns, accident victims, the list goes on. And all of these procedures require a minimum of two units of blood, which is two donations.”

According to Joyce, blood type O negative is the most common universal blood type and occurs in only 7% of the population.

“If you have O-negative blood, your blood can be used by anyone,” Joyce said. “And that’s really important, because there are only so many of us.”

According to Joyce, the most common blood types are O negative, O positive, and A negative, but all blood types are required.

Joyce stressed the importance of donating, especially at this time of year.

“Blood doesn’t last forever and the shelf life of blood is 42 days, so when that runs out, it has to be thrown away and replenished, and your platelets only last seven days,” Joyce said. “It’s needed now more than ever, especially in the summer months because it’s such a critical period when people go on vacation, and our regular donor base isn’t there at that time of year.”

Joyce also talked about donating platelets and why it is important to donate them.

“Platelets are the particles in your blood that promote clotting. So platelets are important because they can control bleeding in patients with leukemia or who are undergoing chemotherapy,” Joyce said.

According to Joyce, people cannot donate platelets at a blood drive. If they want to, they can call the American Red Cross Blood Center in Cape Girardeau and make an appointment.

Joyce says that people are very busy during the summer months and the demand for blood increases significantly.

“There’s more people in accidents and more people on the road, so the demand is going up,” Joyce said. “So the demand is going up, but the supply is going down, and so it’s pretty serious.”

Caitlin Meal, a phlebotomist with the American Red Cross, decided to donate blood on Monday and explained why she thinks it’s important.

“I’ve been donating since I was in high school,” Meal said. “I like to donate because it’s probably the easiest thing I can do to help my fellow man. I’ll make more blood and there’s no harm in donating.”

Meal encouraged people who could donate to do so.

“It doesn’t hurt that much and by donating you can save up to three lives,” Meal said.

Upcoming blood drives in Sikeston are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 12 at Montgomery Bank, 1 Montgomery Bank Drive; noon to 4 p.m. July 16 at the Clinton Building Community Center, 501 Campanella Drive; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 19 at the Sikeston American Legion Hall, 333 S. Kingshighway; and 1 to 5 p.m. July 22 at the VFW Hall, 709 Smith Ave.