With blood donations down, Red Cross seeks help

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Down 50,000 pints of blood nationwide, the American Red Cross is asking Michiganians to help make up for the shortfall.

While Michigan does not have a blood shortage, there is an “urgent need” for donors to help prevent a shortage, said Todd Kulman, spokesman for the Red Cross in Michigan.

Michiganians contribute about 1,200 units of blood daily, Kulman said. Half of that comes from the Metro Detroit area. The state can do its part to make up for the national shortfall if it gets two more donors than expected at each blood drive in Michigan in January, Kulman said.

January is National Blood Donor Month.

The Red Cross attributes the shortfall to a slowdown in donations in November and December.

“A decline in the blood supply after the winter holidays is not uncommon, but it can be replenished when generous volunteers roll up their sleeves to help save lives,” Kulman said. “We encourage our generous donors who are eligible, as well as new donors, to make an appointment to give blood or platelets and help ensure blood products continue to be available for patients. Every two seconds a patient in the U.S. needs blood.”

Donated whole blood lasts about 42 days; blood platelets, which help with clotting, can take 90 minutes to two hours to extract, and can last about five days and are “almost used as quickly as they’re donated,” Kulman said.

Donors typically give one unit of blood per sitting. “Double red” donors need to be a certain height and weight to contribute twice that amount. Those interested in donating can visit redcrossblood.org to find donation locations.