Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 4, 2005

This post is being bumped up to provide current information related to the need to ensure an adequate blood supply following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida throughout the Labor Day weekend. Please scroll down for the latest updates and non-relief related posts.

Update 09-04-2005: The Union Recorder of Milledgeville, Georgia carries an Associated Press article from Atlanta that underscores the urgency for donating blood as part of the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina:

  • The blood supply in the Southern region is at critically low levels for most blood types, especially types O and B. All O and B donors are urged to give blood immediately so that patients can receive life-saving transfusions.
  • Because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the suspension of blood drives in many areas, the blood and platelet supply has suffered an increasingly negative impact by the storm and is in need of replenishment.

How You Can Give Blood or Organize a Blood Drive

You can find information online for blood drives already organized in your community at the American Red Cross' Give Life web site.

Information on organizing a blood drive in your community or at your workplace may be found in Political Calculations' original post below the updates.

Update 2 09-04-2005: President Bush has called for Americans to donate blood to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, in addition to contributing money and time in volunteering to help the relief efforts.

Update 3 09-04-2005: The people of Huntsville, Alabama have significantly stepped up blood donations at regular blood donation centers following the hurricane.

Update 4 09-04-2005: Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri is leading by example in organizing a blood drive on Wednesday, Septemeber 7 at that state's governor's mansion.

Update 09-02-2005: The Opelousas Daily World has confirmed an immediate need for blood donations (emphasis mine) as part of the ongoing hurricane relief efforts (Opelousas is west of Baton Rouge, and is taking in people displaced by the disaster):

One of the most immediate and critical needs is for blood.

LifeShare Blood Centers is asking all eligible blood donors to, literally, roll up your sleeves and help out. Louisiana's blood supply was already dangerously low at the beginning of the weekend, and the hurricane has enormously multiplied the already critical situation.

The upcoming Labor Day weekend means also that donations outside of the area will be limited and demand will go up.

Patients in south Louisiana hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities are being moved from one place to another and the limited blood supply has had a hard time keeping up with them. The New Orleans Blood Center and South Mississippi Blood Services have lost supplies, donations, and donors. It will be weeks, if not months, before they are back in full operation.

New patients hurt by the storm are adding to the burden.

The American Red Cross has asked for blood donors to donate their blood now to ensure an adequate blood supply. All types are needed, especially type O and all Rh negative blood types.

Find Where You Can Donate Blood

You can find information online for blood drives already organized in your community at the American Red Cross' Give Life web site.

Information on organizing a blood drive in your community or at your workplace may be found in Political Calculations' original post below.

The impact of low blood supplies will be felt nationally. Even if your community is located far outside the area directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina, its supply of blood may be affected as supplies are shifted to where its demand is greatest. Donate blood today!

Update 2 (09-02-05): The San Francisco Chronicle has confirmed that the Bay Area may face shortages in its blood supply since 10% of its supply is provided by nine blood banks in the Gulf Coast region. People in the San Francisco Bay area may schedule an appointment by calling (888) 393-4483, or can get more information for set up a blood drive, by visiting www.bloodcenters.org.

Original Post (08-31-05 6:00 PM)

U.S. Blood Supply In any recovery effort following a major catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina, one of the immediate impulses of the public in responding to the crisis is to focus on meeting the immediate needs of providing food, shelter and clothing to the people who have been displaced by the devastation left behind.

Less obvious, but just as essential are long term needs like ensuring an adequate supply of blood, which I suspect will come to be in short supply across the U.S. over the next several weeks as stockpiles are drawn down to replace those lost in the devastated regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. This shortage will impact communities across the U.S. who will have to restock their supplies.

The best way to deal with an expected blood supply shortage several weeks from now is to take steps to resupply the nation's blood banks now. The American Red Cross has information on how you can help organize a blood drive in your community:

The first step, of course, is to contact your local American Red Cross Blood Services region by calling 1-800-GIVELIFE (1-800-448-3543). When you call, you will be put in touch with a blood drive representative, who will contact you without delay to discuss your blood drive opportunity.

Your Red Cross representative will want to learn more about your group or organization, its size, and where, when and how often you are together, and how you communicate with each other. You may be asked to answer some additional questions to ensure your group meets certain minimum requirements.

Then you'll begin planning your actual blood drive. Together with your representative, you'll establish a mutual goal for your drive, based on the size of your group, and how many people you think will participate. You'll secure a date and time for the drive, and you'll select an appropriate site.

Successful blood drives are a true partnership between the host or sponsoring organization, the donors, and the American Red Cross.

Source: American Red Cross

Find a Blood Drive Near You

Information on blood drives already organized in your community where you may donate blood is available at the American Red Cross' Give Life web site.

Other Blog Links for Relief Support Efforts

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