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If you've been listening to AM-1490 WBTA the past few weeks, you know the lingo: the Red Cross is experiencing a critical shortage of blood supplies nationwide, and they need you to donate on August 4th.

This isn't a new problem. In several recent summers, the Red Cross announced to the nation that blood supplies were critically low, and asked for donations en masse during the national mega-appeal, usually during the month of August.

But what does "critical shortage" actually mean? If blood supplies are so dangerously low, how can we tell? And how will it affect you and me in our daily lives?

New York-Penn regional spokeswoman Marianne Schreyer says, it really won't affect you at all.

"Unless," she says, "you have a friend, a family member, or yourself in need of blood. And suddenly, the hospital is putting it on ration. That is a potential to happen," warns Schreyer.

She doesn't have a current number as to how many units of blood are in stock in the nation or locally. But to give an idea of the breadth of the problem, she explained that 500,000 people need to donate this month, or the shortage will remain critical.

"What people don't realize is that each and every day of the year, individuals are having their own health crises," Schreyer says. "Certainly in times of disasters, we see a surge of blood donors because people want to help out." But there are far many more candidates who often need blood infusions, including pregnant women with difficult deliveries; joint replacement surgical candidates; and cancer chemotherapy patients.

"Certainly during the summer, we're all trying to enjoy the good weather, and take vacations," Marianne says. That's been the case in the past, when summer blood supplies normally dropped. But this and other recent summers have just proven to be too much. "When there is extreme heat, people don't want to come and donate. They're just not feeling up to it," she says.

But the need remains real. And already, the problem is being abated.

"With all the attention given to our critical need, it's been fantastic over the past few days – a great response," says Schreyer. But that must continue in order to eradicate the problem across the country.

"We're never sure how much blood hospitals are going to need, on a day-to-day basis," she says.

Locally, the Community Blood Drive is Thursday (August 4th), at the Clarion Hotel on Park Road in Batavia. Blood drive hours are 11:00a.m. til 6:00p.m. You can also always check the
WBTA Community Calendar for updates on the latest area blood drives in the GLOW region.

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