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Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

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What do you want, blood? Why, yes

Stanford Blood Center and the American Red Cross both have issued pleas for blood donations.

Typical seasonal slowdowns in donations were compounded recently by an anticipated blood shortage in Texas. Blood centers including Stanford have been preparing to supply blood products in support of communities hard hit by Hurricane Harvey.

A high number of surgeries requiring large amounts of donor blood at Stanford Hospital last month also led the center to what it described as “critically low inventory” in early August, according to Loren Magaña, spokesman for Stanford Blood Center.

“With any natural disaster, it makes it very difficult for people to donate blood as they typically would, so they’ve made a call out to assist with relief,” he said of Houston-area blood centers. “Summer is a particularly difficult time to get people to come in and donate – people are often traveling, and there are no high school mobile drives. If you’ve ever thought about donating, now is the time.”

Donations increased 30 percent after the American Red Cross put out a similar emergency call for blood and platelet donors in July, according to Red Cross officials, but the shortage remains critical.

“The blood supply is like a cellphone battery – it constantly needs recharging,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director for Red Cross Blood Services, in a press release. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour, but can mean a lifetime for patients.”

Christine Welch, external communications manager for the Red Cross, said there also was a blood emergency last winter, when the number of blood drives decreased due to hectic holiday schedules and severe weather. She noted that it is important to continuously replenish the blood supply as it is perishable and has a limited shelf life of only 42 days, while that of platelets is only five days.

Stanford will be opening a new blood center in Campbell to expand easy access for potential donors in the South Bay. Donation typically takes approximately an hour and involves withdrawing a pint of blood. Experienced donors – particularly those with rare blood types or a match to a patient with special needs – sometimes donate platelets or do a double red-cell draw when they visit.

As part of a fundraising drive, anyone who donates blood through Sept. 25 at a Stanford location will trigger a financial contribution to a summer camp that Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital runs for pediatric transplant recipients, all of whom have benefited from donor blood products.

For more information on Stanford’s blood program and camp donations, visit sbcdonor.org.

To schedule an appointment with the American Red Cross, call (800) 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org.

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