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Red Cross faces critical blood shortage

American Red Cross collections staff member Cherrelle Simon collects a blood donation from Clint Kraft. Clint says that he gives blood because his wife suffers from a rare disease. Amanda Romney / American Red Cross

As folks look to cram in their summer activities this month, the American Red Cross is calling on eligible donors to find time to give blood and platelets.

Blood donations have not met expectations for the past two months, with about 61,000 fewer donations than needed, according to the Red Cross. The shortfall is the equivalent of the Red Cross collecting no blood for more than four days.

"It's crucial that people donate now to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood," said Sue Thesenga, communications manager of the North Central Blood Services Region, in a news release. "Every day, blood and platelet donors can help save lives, and right now these heroes are needed to give as soon as possible."

The summer months, and particularly the days surrounding the Fourth of July, are notorious for blood shortages, due in part to fewer volunteer-hosted blood drives. Nearly 700 fewer blood drives are scheduled the week of July 4 than the weeks before and after, according to the Red Cross. Regular donors also delay giving blood because of vacations or summer activities.

New donors

The Red Cross encourages new donors or those who have not given blood in a while to make an appointment this summer.

It is estimated that blood and platelets are needed every two seconds in the U.S. for emergencies such as accidents, burns, surgeries and cancer treatment. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations daily for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.

Information on blood donation opportunities can be found at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-RED CROSS. A selection of upcoming blood drives in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin can be found below:

• Hubbell Lighting Company in Hudson — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 13

• St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Red Wing — 1-7 p.m., July 13

• Living World Chapel in Emerald — 2-8 p.m., July 13

• County Market in Hudson — noon to 6 p.m., July 14

• 652nd Engineer Company in Hammond — 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., July 15

• Crossroads Church in Woodbury — 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 15

• Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Baldwin — noon to 6 p.m., July 18

• Church of St. Michael in Farmington — 1-7 p.m., July 19

• American Legion in Plum City — 1-7 p.m., July 20

• American Legion Post 121 in River Falls — 1-7 p.m., July 20, and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., July 21

• Valmont Industries in Farmington — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 21

• Cross Lutheran Church in Roberts — noon to 6 p.m., July 21

• Newport Lutheran Church — 12:30-6:30 p.m., July 21

• Walgreens in Rosemount — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 22

• Family Fresh Market in New Richmond — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 22

• Hudson Hospital & Clinic in Hudson — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 24

• Wellhaven Senior Living in River Falls — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 24

• Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond — 1-7 p.m., July 24, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 25

• Caribou Coffee in Rosemount — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 29

How to help

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added more than 25,000 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors.

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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