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Red Cross faces an emergency blood shortage

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The American Red Cross has less than a three day supply of most blood types. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross)

An emergency blood shortage has the American Red Cross asking volunteers to roll up their sleeves and donate.

“Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available, some even less than a two day supply,” Laura McGuire, external communications manager with American Red Cross, said. “Really, where we would like to see our numbers is more at a five day supply.”

McGuire added that inventory levels typically drop while people are going on vacation or spending time with family during the summer months.

Another reason for the decline is because 20 percent of their blood comes from high schools and colleges that are not in session during summer months.

McGuire said they want more inventory on the shelves because blood cannot be manufactured. It can only be donated through one another.

“Only three people out of 100 people in the United States actually gives blood,” McGuire said. “There is a lot of room for people to come in to increase that number.”

In their research of why people do not donate, the answer more often than not was that people did not think about giving blood.

“Think about it,” McGuire said. “It is an easy process. It takes less than an hour. You walk away with the really great satisfaction of knowing that you helped save somebody’s life.”

While all blood types are in demand, the Red Cross would like to see more O-negative donations. That type can be infused in anyone’s body. McGuire said in emergency situations where this is not enough time to type a patient, O-negative is used.

Looking to debunk myths about blood donation, McGuire said staff and volunteers coach those willing to donate through the process.

She said, while appointments take an hour, the needle is only in the arm for 8-10 minutes.

More information about blood donation and how to make an appointment can be found at redcrossblood.org.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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