Blood donors needed

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ROCKFORD - Many blood centers around the nation are facing extreme shortages, including the Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC).

The RRVBC is currently extremely short on Type O positive and negative, B positive and negative and A negative, Lisa Entrikin, director of operations, said last week.

"We are less than a one day's supply of all of those types," Entrikin said. "We try to keep a five day supply on hand, so we are extremely low."

The RRVBC sent out a release on Wednesday calling for people to donate blood due to the longer Memorial Day weekend, which could affect blood supplies. Officials say whole blood and platelet donations are needed now and that people should consider donating as soon as possible.

Recently Entrikin said the center's collections have been down 40% at blood drivers and at fixed sites.

Since the blood center's supplies already were low and the center experienced higher usage than normal earlier in May, Entrikin said it was a "perfect storm."

She said a shortage this severe is unusual this early in the season, because the summer shortages typically begin around Memorial Day and last until Labor Day.

The shortage is being felt elsewhere. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the American Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and is urging eligible donors to give now to help patients facing trauma and other life-threatening situations.

On May 16, the Associated Press reported the American Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms, where it can be most critical. That means just six units of type O blood are available for every 100,000 people, but at least 14 are needed every day.

As the sole supplier of blood to Beloit Health System, the Rock River Valley Blood Center is in need of more blood. The next public blood drive in Beloit is from noon-6 p.m. on June 19 at the Beloit Rotary River Center, 1160 Riverside Drive.

For those willing to give blood sooner, the RRVBC has two sites in Rockford at 3065 N Perryville Rd # 105 off of Interstate 39/90 and at 419 N 6th St. in downtown Rockford. Entrikin said the center also is looking for local businesses who may be interested in hosting blood drives.

One blood donation can save up to three lives. Entrikin said 95% of Americans are eligible to give blood but many think they're ineligible. She encourages people unsure of whether or not they're eligible to call the center. Donating whole blood is a safe, simple process taking 45 minutes to one hour. Platelet donations can take up to two hours. An identification card or donor ID is required to donate. Potential donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old (16 year olds may donate with parental consent). Persons taking medications, or with well-controlled or resolved medical issues are not necessarily disqualified from donation.

For more information, visit rrvbc.org or call 815-965-8751.

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