Red Cross experiencing local blood shortages

Leslie Schelat

The American Red Cross is currently experiencing a national shortage of seven blood types and platelets.

This shortage is different from those that the public is normally aware of because it is not simply a local problem.

“Normally if one community is short, blood can be sent from donors in other Red Cross cities,” said Karen Kelley, Red Cross public relations director for Northeast Ohio. “Unfortunately, because we’re in a national emergency, we can’t get blood from other places.”

Platelet levels are also dangerously low. According to Kelley, for several days last week, local supplies were exhausted.

“Platelets only last five days, so the need is ongoing,” Kelly said.

Even if there are no major emergencies, blood and platelets are used on a daily basis. Cancer treatments, organ donations and advances in medicine all demand a constant supply of blood, and patients who are going through chemotherapy and radiation use platelets regularly.

“Especially in Northeast Ohio, we’re doing major procedures that require more and more blood,” Kelley said. “We must collect enough blood to support 12,000 transfusions a week.”

Demand for blood increases in the summer because more driving, holidays and outdoor activities lead to more accidents.

Blood donation levels are traditionally lower in the summer because people are busier with holidays and vacations. Also, fewer students donate in the summer because schools do not hold blood drives while classes are not in session.

“About 20 percent of the blood we collect (in the United States) comes from students,” Kelley said.

When Steve Lynch, a junior computer technology major, found out about the blood shortage, he said he would donate.

“It does so much more good for other people than harm to me,” Lynch said.

To find local blood drives, call 1-800-GIVELIFE or visit

Contact social services reporter Leslie Schelat at [email protected].