Area feeling pinch of low blood supply

Published 2:41 am Friday, January 16, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Blood banks in our area are asking for donations as the entire country's blood supply has dwindled due to the holidays, winter weather and the flu season.
Angie LaVanway, executive director of the Berrien County Chapter of American Red Cross, said a decrease is expected around the holidays, but not one of this significance.
LaVanway said adding winter weather to the equation has not helped either.
Mary Dunfee, blood donor recruiter at the South Bend Medical Foundation, said in addition to the holidays and the winter weather, the flu season has been a factor contributing to the shortage.
The American Red Cross tries to stay at a three day supply of blood, LaVanway said they are currently below a two day supply.
She also said the universal blood type, type O, is "hovering around a one day supply."
The shortage has already caused elective surgeries in the area to be cancelled because the supply is being saved for critical situations such as emergency surgeries and accident victims.
Dunfee said the South Bend Medical Foundation was at critical levels, which means less than a day's supply, both last week and the week before Christmas, but they are already starting to see an increase in donations.
Last week, the South Bend Medical Foundation began a promotion to increase blood donations.
They will enter every donor's name into a drawing for a 36-inch flat screen, high definition TV. The contest runs through Jan. 31.
The Berrien County Chapter of American Red Cross will be holding a number of blood drives this month including one on Jan. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Buchanan Senior Center located at 131 S. Oak St. in Buchanan. The county chapter is also holding a competition between the counties' high schools to see which school will give the largest donation. Each school has two blood drives and the competition will wrap up in May.
To qualify as a blood donor, you must be in good general health, at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.