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Blood Donations Drop to 10-Year Low

American Red Cross puts out urgent call for donations.

Only a few minutes of your time spent giving blood can help save the life of another individual in need.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive life-saving transfusions on a daily basis.

But health care officials are now raising red flags of concern regarding a recent significant dip in donations that could impact the nation's blood supply levels.

On Monday, the American Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region issued an urgent appeal for blood donors of all types due to a critical blood shortage across the nation.

The organization supplies all of the blood used by Connecticut's hospitals and health care facilities.

While demand for blood products remains steady, donations to the Red Cross this summer are the lowest the organization has seen in more than a decade, according to Elaine St. Peter of the Connecticut American Red Cross.

All types are needed, but especially "O negative," which can be used to treat any patient, she said.

The lagging national donation rates are mirrored here in Connecticut on the local level.

Christine Brown, the assistant director of volunteer services for Milford Hospital, coordinates the blood drives that the local hospital sponsors three times a year.

And the hospital's most recent drive on June 10 was "very poorly attended," Brown said.

"And that was surprising because we normally reach our quota — and more," she said.

Red Cross and local health care officials said they are unsure of the specific reason why there has been such a significant drop in recent blood donations.

MaryJoe Gardecki, the supervisor for Milford Hosptial's blood bank, told Patch the hospital's blood supplies are sound, as the facility is able to tap into the larger reserves at Yale-New Haven Hospital or Bridgeport Hospital if they have pressing need for, or a shortage of, a particular blood type.

She said, however, that this time of year is traditionally a slower time for blood donations. 

"We do have these blood shortages every summer," Gardecki said, adding that the holiday season can also be another difficult time for donations.

Both time periods have one thing in common: many people are busy traveling or on vacation, especially with students on break and out of school. 

"People are just occupied doing other things," Gardecki said.

But Red Cross officials said while the dip in donations during the summer is expected, the dramatic recent drop has stressed their reserves during a particularly busy spring and summer: over the past three months the organization has responded to more than 40 major disasters across more than 30 states.

"It is a concern," Brown said.

For those interested in donating blood, upcoming local drives include:

  • Aug. 2: Yale School of Medicine, 315 Cedar St. in New Haven, 8:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
  • Aug. 3: Arden House, 850 Mix Ave. in Hamden, 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 4: Wood Winds, 29 Schoolground Road in Branford, 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 5: American Red Cross New Haven Chapter House, 703 Whitney Ave. in New Haven, 12:15 to 5:45 p.m.
  • : 390 Church St., Guilford. 9 a.m.
  • Aug. 11: Milford Elks Club, 124 New Haven Ave. in Milford, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 11: New Haven Regional Water Authority, 90 Sargent Drive in New Haven, 7 a.m. to noon.
  • : , 30 Caputo Rd., North Branford. 6 p.m.

Those who are 17 years of age or older who meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on height) — and are in generally good health — may be eligible to donate blood.

For more information, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.

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