Blood banks seeking donors; says blood supply in region at ‘critical shortage’ |
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Joe Napsha

The American Red Cross and Vitalant Pittsburgh put out an emergency call Tuesday for blood donors.

It is down to less than a three-day supply of most blood types, the Red Cross said in a statement..

The Red Cross said it has less than a two-day supply of type O blood and Vitalant Pittsburgh, formerly the Central Blood Bank, is down to a two-day supply of O-negative blood, which is half the ideal quantity needed to support patient needs, the blood banks said Tuesday. A five-day supply is recommended, according to Red Cross statement.

During the July 4 holiday week, there were 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed, said the Red Cross.

All of the blood banks are experiencing shortages this summer, said Kristen Lane, Vitalant Pittsburgh spokesperson.

Vitalant, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., provides blood products to all the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facilities and Allegheny Health Network hospitals in Western Pennsylvania, Lane said.

“We are at a critical shortage right now. We have never seen the blood supply so low. We are really reaching out to the public,” to donate blood, Lane said.

“This may impact area hospitals by forcing them to cancel or postpone elective surgeries and treatment,” Lane added.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has not experienced any disruptions to care related to blood shortage, said Rick Pietzak, a UPMC spokesman.

The Red Cross typically has challenges getting sufficient blood donations in the summer months, when people are on vacation and the schools are not open to conduct blood drives, said Robin Jennings, spokeswoman for Greensburg-based Excela Health. Excela Health, which operates hospitals in Greensburg, Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant, uses blood supplied by the Red Cross, Jennings said.

The Red Cross said its Missing Types campaign to encourage donors to give blood in June fell short of the goal by 24,000 donations of blood and blood platelets, resulting in a “significant drawdown” of the Red Cross blood supply.

Blood donations have decreased by 50% in the past 10 years, Lane said.

To meet the need, the national Red Cross has added about 8,000 additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives over the next few weeks to accommodate donors, said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services.

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, can make an appointment using the Blood Donor App, at or by calling 1-800-733-2767. The Red Cross operates a blood donor center on Harvey Avenue, Greensburg.

To schedule an appointment at a Vitalant blood donation center, visit, call 412-209-7000 or download the Vitalant-Pittsburgh app.

Excela Health is hosting two Red Cross blood drives in August — Aug. 6 at Excela Square at Latrobe and Aug. 12 at Excela Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant.

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