VIDEO REPORT: Blood Supply Shortage; Urgent Need For Blood

UPDATED Tuesday, June 26, 2012 --- 8:20 a.m.

Press Release: American Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood Donors Now

MADISON, Wis. (June 25, 2012) – The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. This shortfall leaves the Red Cross with half the readily available blood products on hand now than this time last year.

The Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors – now more than ever – to roll up a sleeve and give blood at the 12th Annual Beach Days blood drives held on July 2 - 7. All blood types are needed, but especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative in order to meet patient demand this summer.

An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood. In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.

Unfortunately, patients like two-year-old Olivia Diaz of Madison don’t get a holiday from needing blood products. Last February, Olivia was diagnosed with malignant rhabdoid tumor, an extremely rare, aggressive tumor discovered mainly in young children. Due to its complexity and placement, the tumor is considered inoperable but doctors were able to remove a sample during a biopsy surgery soon after discovery. As of May 4, Olivia had completed six weeks of radiation and she will continue with chemotherapy through September, when it will be determined if she is fit to receive a stem cell transplant. Throughout the course of her treatment, Olivia has received multiple blood and platelet transfusions to maintain her health.

“Until Olivia was admitted to the American Family Children’s Hospital, I never really understood the importance of donating blood,” said Anthony Diaz, Olivia’s father. “She’s already received more than 20 transfusions and that number is expected to double by Labor Day. Blood and platelet donors truly help keep my little girl alive.”

Eligible donors are invited to give the gift of life during Beach Days, which kicks off on Monday, July 2 with a special blood drive at the Sheraton Hotel. All presenting donors will receive a free Red Cross t-shirt, a chance to win great raffle prizes and will be treated to lemonade, fresh fruit, sandwiches and baked goods.

Beach Days Kick-Off Blood Drive
Monday, July 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sheraton Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, Madison

From Tuesday, July 3 through Saturday, July 7, Beach Days continues at the Madison East and Madison West Blood Donation Centers where blood and platelet donors can enjoy a tropical environment and special treats such as hot dogs, ice cream, fruit and cookies. All presenting donors will have the chance to win great raffle prizes such as gas cards, gift certificates to local restaurants, and more.

12th Annual Beach Days Blood Donation Opportunities

Madison West Donation Center, 4860 Sheboygan Avenue
Tuesday, July 3 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4 CLOSED
Thursday, July 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, July 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday, July 7 from 8 a.m. to noon

Madison East Donation Center, 2109 Zeier Road
Tuesday, July 3 from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4 CLOSED *Platelet donations by appointment only
Thursday, July 5 from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 6 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Red Cross hopes to collect at least 700 blood and platelet donations over the course of the five-day event. Beach Days is sponsored by NBC15, which will provide ongoing coverage of the event as the exclusive television sponsor.

How to Donate Blood: Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

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Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 --- 9:30 p.m.

The Red Cross says because July 4th is on a Wednesday, there will be fewer blood drives. Right now they are facing an emergency need.

They say their blood supply is critically low, and for patients like 2-year-old Olivia Diaz, it can be a matter of life and death.

Olivia has a very rare kind of childhood cancer. In addition, she has a rare blood type. She started getting sick around the holidays and since then has had nearly 25 blood transfusions.

Olivia's treatment is expected to be finished around Labor Day. By then she'll have had around 40 transfusions.

The Red Cross says the need is especially high now because in June donations were down ten percent, that means a shortfall of 50,000 pints across the country.


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