Red Cross asks residents for help with blood shortage

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Supply often runs low in summer, when people are on vacation and forget to donate.

With the Fourth of July approaching, the American Red Cross is asking people to take a break from the festivities and roll up their sleeves to help curb a seasonal blood shortage.

Cheryl Klueppel, donor recruitment and accounts manager at the Cape Girardeau office of the American Red Cross, said the region has less than a 2-day supply of blood, down from its general five-day supply goal. To help, the Cape Girardeau donation center will be open on Independence Day and for extended hours through July 9.

Klueppel said the Red Cross faces similar shortages every summer because many people are on vacation and often forget about donating blood.

"The Red Cross is committed to being there for people when they need us and where they need us, but we can't do it alone," Klueppel said. "We need help from the community to ensure that there is a safe and adequate blood supply."

Also, she said, the number of accidents, and therefore need for blood, increases around the holidays because more people are out and about.

The donation center in Cape Girardeau and the blood drives it promotes supply blood to hospitals in 15 Southeast Missouri counties. Klueppel said that in times of crisis, it can get blood from other centers in the region, but the shortage has affected many of those places as well.

"There have been times of more serious instances in the past that we've had to import blood from other parts of the nation," she said. "But we want to try to prevent that."

To combat the blood shortage, the Red Cross is running a campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals, in which anyone who donates blood until July 8 will receive a free Cardinals T-shirt. Donors also will be entered in a drawing for a prize package that includes game tickets, hotel accommodations, restaurant gift certificates and two seats from Busch Stadium, after the park is demolished. Anyone who donates throughout July also will be entered in a weekly drawing for game tickets.

LaVern Ross, who took advantage of the donation center's extended hours by giving blood Saturday, said she decided to donate after Red Cross representatives called her at home. Ross, of Jackson, said she doesn't remember how many times she's given blood over the last 20 years.

"I try to give if there's a shortage," she said. "I have O positive blood, which I think pretty well works for everyone, so I think that's why I get called a lot."

wmcferron@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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