Though the official season of giving is past, area Red Cross officials are asking Surry County residents to roll up their sleeves for one more offering — which is much-needed and could save a life.
“We have an emergency need for blood right now,” said Lynn Wilkes of the American Red Cross office in Winston-Salem, who is involved with collection efforts for Surry and Stokes counties. That includes a series of upcoming drives in Surry to address the situation.
It is a seasonal shortage that can be due to a combination of factors, Wilkes added Tuesday.
“We see it mostly around the holidays, and then it gets worse once the winter weather hits,” the Red Cross representative explained. “We often see a lower blood supply during the summer as well, when school is not in session.”
Hectic holiday schedules for many regular blood donors led to about 37,000 fewer donations in November and December than what was needed. Snowstorms and severe weather also have impacted donations.
Nearly 100 blood drives were forced to cancel in December, resulting in more than 3,100 donations going uncollected.
That has left Red Cross blood products being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, according to Wilkes.
Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and persons receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease all can require blood to save their lives.
“The Red Cross (which provides about 40 percent of the nation’s supply) is doing everything it can to ensure blood products are available on the shelves when patients need it, but we can’t do it alone,” Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of Red Cross Blood Services, said in a statement.
“We need eligible individuals to give blood and platelets as soon as possible.”
Donors can help even more by inviting family members, friends or co-workers to donate, too, Red Cross officials say.
In Surry County, this can be accomplished through a series of blood drives beginning this weekend, part of an overall effort that includes the Red Cross adding nearly 200 hours to donation centers and community drives nationwide over the coming weeks.
The local schedule includes these locations, dates and times:
• Calvary Baptist Church, 314 S. Franklin Road, Mount Airy, Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-401-2667.
• An Elkin community blood drive at Elkin Rescue Squad, 946 N. Bridge St., next Monday from 1:30 to 6 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-244-1568.
• Shoals Elementary School, 1800 Shoals Road, Pinnacle, Jan. 19, 1 to 5:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-325-2518.
• A Pilot Mountain community blood drive at Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church, 210 Marion St., Jan. 23, noon to 4:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-368-4889.
• Cedar Ridge Elementary School, 734 Flippin Road, Lowgap, Jan. 26, 1 to 5:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-352-4320.
• Dobson Elementary School, 400 W. Atkins St., Jan. 26, 1 to 5:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-386-8913.
• A Girl Scout blood drive at the You Better Run! store at 526 W. Lebanon St., Mount Airy, Jan. 28, 1 to 5:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-403-8753.
• White Plains Elementary School, 710 Cadle Ford Road, Mount Airy, Jan. 30, 1 to 5:30 p.m. For an appointment, call 336-320-3434.
In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
All blood types are needed to help ensure a sufficient supply is available for patients.
Eligible donors with types O, A-negative and B-negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation, whereby available donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single visit, allowing them to maximize their impact.
Eligible donors with type AB blood are especially needed to supply platelets or plasma, where available, or whole blood.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.