The American Red Cross is currently experiencing a nationwide blood shortage.
Mason County American Red Cross Director Rebecca Cartmell said it is not uncommon to have a blood shortage in the summer months, but it does not make it any less serious.
“We often see a blood shortage in the summer months,” she said. “I believe the most common reason for the shortage is due to school being out and families on vacation. The schools, whether it be the public schools or the colleges, are our biggest source of blood donations.”
Cartmell said a blood drive is scheduled for Aug. 14 at the Church of the Nativity in Maysville from 1:30-6 p.m. It is open to the community.
“Anyone who wants to donate that day can do so,” she said. “It’s an event open to the public, sponsored by the Red Cross. We’ve had our blood drives there for about 50 years.”
According to Cartmell, in order to donate, donors must be in good health and generally feeling well, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a photo identification.
Cartmell said the blood is needed to help save lives.
“Every pint can save up to three lives,” she said. “It can be separated into plasma, blood cells or used as whole blood. It’s used for accident victims, blood cancers, blood diseases, surgery patients and for blood transfusions for anyone who needs it.”
According to redcrossblood.org, once the blood is collected, it is taken to a processing center, where information about the donation is scanned into a system. Whole blood donations are separated into transfusable components, such as red cells, platelets and plasma, tests are preformed to establish blood types and test for diseases.
If a person tests positive for a disease, the donation will be discarded and the patient will be notified, according to the website.
Blood is available to be shipped to hospitals 24 hours a day and some hospitals will keep blood units on shelves, but may call for more in emergency situations.
The blood is not only used for the area in which it is collected, according to Cartmell.
“It’s shipped wherever the need is most for the type of blood it is,” she said. “About 41 percent of US blood comes from the Red Cross. We assist people in emergency situations, help them prepare, and hopefully prevent tragedies and recover from emergencies. Collecting blood is one part of what we do.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about donating to the Red Cross can visit redcrossblood.org.