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Red Cross Issues Urgent Appeal for Blood Donors

by on July 23, 2014 6:00 AM

The American Red Cross is issuing an urgent appeal for blood donors in the State College area and across the nation thanks to an acute shortage of blood.

Wendy Keeler, a donor recruitment representative with the organization, spent Wednesday keeping busy supervising a blood drive at the HUB ballroom on the Penn State campus. Technicians in white coats filled the large room preparing donation kits and working with donors.

Keeler says Wednesday's drive was fairly busy, but many more donors are needed in the days ahead. "During the summertime our inventories have dropped so low," she says. "We lose people because of vacations. We lose probably about -- nationwide --  about 20 to 30 percent of our donor base."

According to Keeler, that's mostly because high schools and colleges aren't holding blood collection drives. "Right now, we're in a position where we're struggling to supply our hospitals," she says.

Keeler says the Red Cross offers incentives to attract younger donors. "For the first, second and third time we have to give them stuff," she says. "And we give them food. We have pizza, we have subs to get them in here, so that we start to build that sense of community -- that it's the right thing to do." After giving blood several times young people frequently become regular donors.

Carlos Rodriguez, one of those young donors, was happy to roll up his sleeve Wednesday afternoon. The 17-year-old from Hazleton, Pa. was at Penn State taking part in an Outward Bound camp. Outward Bound was assisting the Red Cross with Wednesday's blood drive. "It makes me feel good because I know I'm helping other people," he says. "It was a good experience."

The Greater Alleghenies Region covers a broad area which stretches from Northern Kentucky through parts of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and up through Central Pennsylvania, It serves roughly 90 hospitals. "We have to collect about 900 units every day -- every day. And that's been a struggle," says Keeler. "We're hovering around a two day supply [of blood] or less."

By issuing the urgent appeal for donors the Red Cross is trying to prevent a nationwide emergency. They're looking for all blood types but some are in very short supply especially, O-negative, O-positive A-negative and B-negative.

Alicia Cornali likes to gives blood as often as possible. She's had family members who've needed blood in the past because of medical emergencies. "I guess I just feel it's a way I can help," Cornalisays. "It doesn't take very much time and I know they do a lot of different things with the blood products that they take ... it makes me feel good."

Blood collection drives will continue at the HUB ballroom on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day.

Click HERE for more information and to set up an appointment to make a blood donation.

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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