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Red Cross seeing blood shortage

ELKINS — The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage across the state of West Virginia and is asking for the public’s health in battling this crisis.

The shortage has caused the blood supply to drop to its lowest post-summer level in the past six years and there is currently less than a day’s supply of certain blood types available.

The Red Cross, which is in desperate need of all blood types, especially Type O, is asking citizens to make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible to ensure patients can receive the lifesaving transfusion they desperately need.

“Every unit of blood has the potential to save someone’s life,” Jason Keeling, executive director for Allegheny Highlands Chapter of the American Red Cross, told The Iner-Mountain Friday.

“We are in need of all different blood types and every little bit helps. So we are encouraging people to come out and help others, and giving blood is an easy way to do that. It’s well worth it.”

The American Red Cross, which follows the highest standards when it comes to safety at its blood drives and donation centers, has several blood donation opportunities scheduled for area residents.

The first local event will take place in Weston on Monday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lewis County Emergency Squad on Second Street.

The second opportunity will be Wednesday, when the Red Cross will be in Elkins at the Elks Lodge on Country Club Road from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The final opportunity for area residents will be Thursday, when the Red Cross will be collecting blood at the Way of Holiness Church in Buckhannon from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

During the fall, the blood supply typically rebounds, but because of this summer’s COVID-19 delta variant surge in the United States, those months became the slowest donor months of the year.

“We normally start to see increases in donations as people get back from vacations and get back into school settings,” Keeling said. “But this year that spike is not happening because of COVID and concerns people have about coming out and giving at blood drives. But we want to assure the public that we are doing everything we can to make sure the drives are safe by social distancing, requiring masks during the process, and by scheduling in advance so we lessen the amount of traffic at the drive.”

Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“We still accept walk-ins, but we encourage the public to schedule ahead so that they don’t have to wait as long and so that we can reduce the traffic,” Keeling said. “We hope to see a lot of people out during the month of October.”

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