American Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative Gwen Hunter at the Blood Donor Center. (Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
The American Red Cross has issued an emergency request for blood donations.
Based on fewer than expected donations received in June and early July, the Johnson City Red Cross Blood Services Center is extending its collection hours and asking local donors to help make up the shortage.
The center is at 818 Sunset Drive, Suite 100, next door to Mahoney’s and the Social Security office. Appointments and walk-in donations may be made Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday from noon-7 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., July 30 from noon-7 p.m. and July 31 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Red Cross Blood Donor Recruiter Gwen Hunter said blood donations typically drop during June when many people schedule vacations, but this year’s shortage has been aggravated by inclement weather.
“It’s similar to past years but more this year because the terrible weather has made it hard for people to get out,” she said. “In June, the supply was 10 percent less than normal.”
While walk-in donations are always welcome at the blood center, the Red Cross encourages those who wish to donate to schedule an appointment and receive more information about the donation process by calling 1-800-733-2767 or by visiting redcrossblood.org.
“It’s the blood on the shelves that saves lives,” Hunt said. “It will take a long time to fill up this hole. It’s like trying to fill a bathtub with the plug out.
“We will have a continuing need for blood over the next six weeks, so if anyone can’t donate Saturday, we will still need them next week and the week after that.”
Across the Carolinas Blood Services Region that includes East Tennessee, Hunt said the need is for approximately 1,600 donors to step forward and give blood.
“We are counting on generous volunteer blood and platelet donors to step up and give now. ... Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need.”
While all blood types are needed, donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give.
A blood donor card, a driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check in. Donors must be at least 17 years old or 16 with a parental permission. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. And high school students and other donors 18 years old and younger must also meet height requirements.