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Central Blood Bank issues emergency call for donors

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 4:39 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Rose Roll gives blood for the first time as Danielle Yackovich, from the Central Blood Bank, makes her comfortable on Jan. 25, 2017, during a blood drive held at Hampton High School.

Central Blood Bank says the need for blood donors is at its highest level in 14 years.

In an effort to rebuild local and national supplies, Central Blood Bank is asking people to give blood this week and throughout the rest of the summer.

“The last time Central Blood Bank used the terms ‘emergency, dangerously low blood levels, and severe decline' was back in 2003,” spokeswoman Kristen Lane said in an email. “We never want to use these words lightly.”

Central Blood Bank strives to keep a three-day supply of every blood type on the shelf at all times. Donations from O-negative donors, the universal blood type, are especially important over the summer due to increased accidents and trauma cases.

“Patients, their families and the hospitals in Western Pennsylvania that Central Blood Bank serves depend on us to deliver on our promise to provide a safe and ample blood supply,” Charles Wilcox, president of Central Blood Bank, said in a statement. “Don't take a vacation from blood donation. In about an hour, one donor can save up to three lives by giving blood.”

Blood centers across the country are dealing with dangerously low blood supplies, Lane said.

She said donations usually decrease in summer, because many regular donors go on vacation, and high schools and colleges students — who account for about 20 percent of donated blood — are on summer break.

“However, this decrease is much more dramatic than last year, and we can't identify a specific issue,” Lane said.

Those willing to give blood can visit donateblood.centralbloodbank.org or call 866-366-6771 to schedule an appointment at a donor center or at a community blood drive.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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