American Red Cross officials are urging donors at West Virginia University and in the Morgantown area to help replenish blood supplies in preparation for Memorial Day and the upcoming summer months.

“With the warmer weather comes an increase in outdoor activities and more traffic on the highways heading for vacation and family visits,”said Crystal Bennett, donor resources assistant at the local Red Cross office on Pineview Drive.”But with more going on, the chances for accidents and injuries also increases and we need to have blood on hand for emergencies.”

A sufficient, readily available blood supply must be at hospitalstested, typed and ready to gowhenever it’s needed, she said.

To maintain at least a five-day supply of all blood types, the American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Region, must collect 1,095 units each weekday to meet patient needs at more than 100 hospitals in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky.

The region’s supply of all negative blood types has fallen to less than a two days’supply, with just over a day’s supply of Type O Negative, the universal blood type, Bennett said.

Being universal, O Negative may be used if there is no time to determine a patient’s blood type during a trauma situation such as a car accident, and those with O Negative blood can only receive their own type in a transfusion.

A month after major fighting ended in the war in Iraq, turnout at American Red Cross blood drives has dropped significantly, resulting in reduced blood supplies, which alarms Red Cross officials as the Memorial Day holiday approaches.

“We experienced strong donor turnout at a majority of blood drives held during the war in Iraq, and a few drives greatly exceeded goal,”said Taunia Oechslin, senior director of recruitment and communications.”We understand the public’s desire to help should the U.S. military require civilian blood donations; yet area residents require support year-round.”

She added,”Because of the potential for accidents over the Memorial Day holiday period, we are most concerned about all negative blood types, yet donors of all blood types are needed daily.”

Two drives are set at WVU in May:

  • Tuesday, May 20, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., HSC , John Jones Conference Room, appointments only. Please call 598-4095.
  • Thursday, May 29, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Mountainlair ballroom, sponsored by the WVU Staff Council

Because of the ongoing need for blood, Bennett says that it’s important for everyone to become a regular donor, and that blood can be donated every 56 days.

For more information about blood donation, visitwww.redcrosslife.orgor call the American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Region, at 1-800-542-5663.