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Blood banks in dire straits

Officials make emergency call for donations due to local shortage

Posted: July 18, 2012 12:13 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2012 12:13 p.m.

Blood supplies are critically short right now, and when it comes to keeping a sufficient balance in the blood bank, Santa Clarita Valley residents are definitely running in the red, a Red Cross official said this week.

Last year, 15,600 pints of blood were collected throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, but the Red Cross distributed about 17,000 pints locally, said Red Cross Southern California Blood Services spokesman Nicholas Samaniego.

The pattern is repeated throughout Southern California, which imports 20 to 30 percent of its blood from other areas or states, Samaniego said.

“It’s just continually trying to change the culture here in Southern California,” Samaniego said.

Nationwide, there’s a critical blood shortage, Red Cross officials have said. During the past two months, donations were at the lowest level the Red Cross has seen for those months in more than a dozen years, officials said.

The Red Cross currently operates monthly blood drives out of its Valencia office, but that doesn’t generate sufficient blood to meet the needs of local residents. There is no full-time blood donation center in the SCV.
Summer donations

In summer, the lack of blood donors is more apparent as people go on vacation and school blood drives stop, Samaniego said.

“We understand that it’s hard for people, especially at this time of year,” he said.

While many people in Southern California are enthusiastic about donating when disaster strikes, blood is something that is always needed for transfusions in hospitals, Samaniego said.

If there is a disaster, the Red Cross has to be well supplied ahead of time because it takes about two days to screen the blood and make it available for transfusion.

“Any time someone is a recipient of blood, the blood had to be in the system at least two days prior,” Samaniego said.

Need elsewhere

The Red Cross isn’t the only blood donation center seeking donors during the summer months.

Providence Health & Services, which provides blood for Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills and the other four Southern California Providence medical centers, has a severe shortage as well, according to Patricia Aidem, spokeswoman for Providence Health & Services, Southern California.

“During the summer, we always have a critical shortage,” Aidem said.

“Apparently, we had a very successful June, so we might not feel the pinch until the end of the month of August,” Aidem said. “We’ve actually been pretty successful at our monthly blood drive at Providence Health Center in Valencia.”

The Red Cross will be holding a blood drive at its Valencia center, 23838 Valencia Blvd., Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Donors should be healthy, at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and answer a health questionnaire on-site.

Providence Health & Services, 26357 McBean Parkway, will host a blood drive this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


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