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American Red Cross Issues Local Blood Supply Alert
Date:9/12/2008

Local Blood Supply Extremely Low, Health of Local Patients May Be at Risk

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Region is issuing a blood supply alert for New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.

All blood types are needed; however there is a critical need for Type O blood. Brigid O'Neill-LaGier, Chief Executive Officer of the Penn-Jersey Region, is appealing to people in the community to donate blood. "The blood supply is a community resource; a resource that solely relies on volunteer donors in communities across the country. Locally, we are at risk of not being able to provide enough blood of certain types needed to support patient care."

People are urged to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (1-800-448-3543) or to visit http://www.pleasegiveblood.org to schedule a blood donation appointment as soon as possible. There are community blood drives and donor centers located throughout New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania seven days a week.

Why is the American Red Cross issuing a blood supply alert locally?

The American Red Cross supplies nearly half of the nation's blood supply to hospitals through 35 blood service regions across the country. Although the Red Cross system is able to ship blood when and where it is needed, volunteer blood donors of all blood types are needed everyday to replenish and sustain the blood supply both nationally and locally. "When one region or area of the country experiences low blood supplies, it puts a strain on the entire blood collection system, which could ultimately affect patient care locally," says O'Neill-LaGier.

Population density, along with patient care within these regions, is vastly diverse, making blood collection an issue of supply and demand based on blood type. Currently in New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, the need is greatest for O Negative and O Positive blood. O'Neill-LaGier states that "if you have one of the critical blood types we need right now or even if you don't know your blood type, we ask you to donate blood as soon as possible. If we can not keep up with the demand for these blood types, the health of local patients may be at risk."

Many factors influence why the blood supply is at critical levels locally, making this a challenging time for the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Region to collect the blood needed. Despite this fact, the demand for blood remains constant. 2,000 units of blood must be collected each and every day in New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania just to meet the basic needs of area hospitals and the patients they serve.

"In New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, we have been struggling to meet our local hospital blood supply needs for various reasons -- severe weather, blood drive cancellations, and blood donors not keeping their appointments. It is critical that more people in our local communities donate blood right now," O'Neill-LaGier adds.

To donate blood through the American Red Cross, individuals must be at least 17 years if age, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in general good health. Eligible individuals are urged to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE or visit http://www.pleasegiveblood.org to find out where they can give the gift of life.

Blood Facts

O Positive is the most common blood type. Not all racial and ethnic groups have the same mix of these blood types. The Hispanic population, for example, has a relatively higher percentage of O's, while the Asian population has a higher percentage of B's.

The mix of the different blood types in the U.S. population is:

White African American Hispanic Asian

O + 37% 47% 53% 39%

O - 8% 4% 4% 1%

A + 33% 24% 29% 27%

A - 7% 2% 2% 0.5%

B + 9% 18% 9% 25%

B - 2% 1% 1% 0.4%

AB + 3% 4% 2% 7%

AB - 1% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1%

Some patients require a closer blood match than that provided by the ABO positive/negative blood typing. For example, sometimes if the donor and recipient are from the same racial or ethnic background, the chance of a reaction can be reduced.

That's why an African-American blood donation may be the best hope for the needs of patients with sickle cell disease, because 98% of these patients are of African-American descent.

INTERVIEWS AND FILMING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE

Contact: Chris Englerth

Office: (215) 451-4941

Cell: (215) 275-3017

John Hagins

Office: (215) 451-4085

Cell: (215) 300-1744


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SOURCE American Red Cross
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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