EDITORIAL Blood donations are vital nationwide

July 13, 2017
Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Exterior of the Observer-Reporter building in Washington.

Donations are the lifeblood of a number of organizations and worthwhile causes, enabling them to provide valuable services to people in need. Most donations come in the form of money, property or work time. And there are organ donors, who offer something more – a lifeline to others.

Officials are hoping this spirit of philanthropy extends to another branch of health care, and right now. Blood supplies are at “dangerously low levels” nationwide, according to Central Blood Bank, which projects deficits to continue through August.

Blood donations are usually down during warm-weather months – peak vacation time. But, as blood bank spokeswoman Kristen Lane told the Observer-Reporter’s Rick Shrum, “This year, it is especially significant.”

To alleviate the shortage, Central Blood Bank is urging potential donors to be active donors. Its president, Charles Wilcox, said: “Don’t take a vacation from blood donation. In about an hour, one donor can save up to three lives by giving blood.”

The bank, which serves about 50 hospitals and other health-care facilities, is seeking 800 donations this week. Anyone 18 or older, weighing at least 110 pounds and in generally good health may be eligible to donate. Candidates who are 16 or 17 need parental consent.

Central Blood Bank collects whole blood, double red blood cells, plasma and platelets. It is seeking a supply of every blood type, especially O-negative, which is in demand during the summer because of an uptick in auto accidents. And the supply of platelets is about half of what it should be.

The bank operates 22 locations in Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. Two are in Washington County: a community donor center at the Crossroads Center in Washington and a fixed mobile site at Center Presbyterian Church in Peters Township. Hours have been extended at several sites in Allegheny County.

Walk-ins are accepted, but the blood bank recommends appointments be made by calling 1-866-366-6771 or visiting http://www.donateblood.centralbloodbank.org.

Upcoming blood drives also have been organized at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Burgettstown, Sunday; Cal-Ed Federal Credit Union in Coal Center, July 20; and Steel City Harley-Davidson, South Strabane Township, July 22.

This blood shortage is a near-crisis situation, in this region and across the country. Available, healthy donors should register to “give blood,” as the old expression goes. It doesn’t take long, is minimally painful, costs nothing, and there are cookies, juice and soft drinks afterward.

It is a donation that can pay off – for the donor and recipient – for a long time.

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