‘Gift of Life’: State suffers emergency blood shortage

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Rain isn’t the only thing lacking in Alabama these days.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers announced this week the state is suffering an emergency blood shortage.

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“The shortage is seriously affecting our ability to meet hospital requests for blood – we are hundreds of units behind current demand and we really need Alabamians to come out and support the state’s blood needs,” said Judy Russell, LifeSouth South Alabama district director.

Russell said rising temperatures are a key factor contributing to the shortage.

“Schools are no longer in session and people are going on vacation, so it becomes less of a priority to stop and donate blood,” she said.

“With the summer heat it’s hard to get people to stop and get on the bloodmobile this year.”

LifeSouth, a volunteer blood supply for 57 hospitals in Alabama, parks its bloodmobile in the Selma area once a month, Russell said. Currently, the state is in “critical” need of O Positive, O Negative, A Positive and A Negative blood types.

At Vaughan Regional Medical Center, the blood supply is not at full capacity, said Merrill South, Vaughan community relations liaison. However, Vaughan has not been affected by the shortage.

“We’re good, but not fully stocked,” South said.

Russell said incentives are provided to lure the general public to the bloodmobile.

“We normally have T-shirts and everyone gets a free cholesterol test,” Russell said. “And we have the usual cookies and juice and water.

We are trying to appeal to people and are getting a good response. We’ve had quite a few people come.”

Russell said the LifeSouth bloodmobile will make its monthly stop in the Selma Wal-Mart parking lot on July 2. Blood donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh 110 pounds or more and show a photo I.D.

Based in Gainesville, Fla., LifeSouth has 15 donor centers in Albertville, Birmingham, Cullman, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Huntsville, Montgomery and Opelika. The blood center supplied more than 130,000 blood components for Alabama hospitals in the last year.