Red Cross in critical need for blood during summer months

Red Cross in critical need for blood during summer months

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The American Red Cross is in dire need for blood for the southeast Missouri region.

American Red Cross Southeast Missouri region Executive Director Julian Watkins said collecting blood during the summer months is difficult because a lot comes from during the school months.

"Our summer months are especially difficult for us," Watkins said. "A large number of our collections come from the school districts. So when school is not in session we do encourage other donors to try to pick up their donations if possible so that we can make up for the lack of collections were able to make there."

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Watkins said every two seconds that someone in the nation needs blood. It's a number that Watkins said is an alarming reminder of why it's imperative they need many more donations and on a constant basis.

"It's absolutely important!" Watkins stated. "Right now the blood is being distributed faster than we can collect it. It's not that needs your blood. It's cancer patients, people that are being treated for leukemia, accident victims, surgeries; there's all kinds of people that need this blood."

Watkins adds that this blood cannot be stockpiled and has only a certain amount of time when it can be used.

"Unlike a lot of disaster preparedness and the things that we're able to serve, the blood cannot be stockpiled," Watkins added. "The red blood cells have a shelf-life of about 42 days and the platelets have a shelf-life of about 5 days. That's what we use to treat cancer patients and things of that nature. So it is very important that we get those red blood cells and those platelets donated."

He adds there are plenty of cases across the nation and here locally where blood is not available when they need it.

"A couple of months ago we did actually have a client who was in need of blood. It was a young woman who was being treated for sickle cell," Watkins recalled. "The blood was not available at that time. So we do have stories like that all across the nation; people that do need the blood that it just isn't there for them. We really do encourage people to donate if possible."

Watkins suggested a couple of different ways to find out more information about where to donate. He said you can go to their website here at www.redcrossblood.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or download their American Red Cross Blood Donor app which allows scheduling appointments and tracking how much blood you have donated, along with how many potential lives you have saved.

"Potentially, each blood donation saves up to three lives," Watkins said. "Years down the road you can see that you've donated a gallon of blood at this point or two gallons of blood. You're able to track that along the years."

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