Red Cross blood shortage gets Amarillo blood donations pumping

A 15-year low. That's the seriousness of the American Red Cross' recently announced blood supply shortage.

The Red Cross supplies just under 50 percent of the blood supply to the country. If there are areas experiencing a more critical need, one Red Cross location will send blood to that area.

"If there's a shortage in one area we can pull blood blood off of the shelves from somewhere else and truck it in," said the American Red Cross Public Information Officer, Anita Foster. "But, when we look across our shelves right now, nationwide, we are all very slim in the blood that's on our shelves."

Despite it being a nationwide shortage, even local blood centers can sometimes feel the hurt especially during the summertime when blood usage typically goes up, and donations go down.

"We are stable at this time, but as with any blood center that can change overnight," said Suzanne Talley at Coffee Memorial Blood Center. "During the summer what happens is regular donors are traveling, kids are out of school, there's a lot of outdoor activities and so what happens is they're not available to donate. But on the other hand, accidents are at their highest because there is increased activity."

Coffee Memorial serves 31 counties and 29 medical facilities. All the blood that is donated locally will stay within that region, serving the region's needs first and then used to help other areas in need.

"The blood that is donated here at Coffee Memorial stays here first," added Suzanne. "once all of our needs are met, then if there is a hurricane in the Gulf Coast and we can help with that we do through America's Blood Centers.

Because Coffee Memorial isn't currently affiliated with the Red Cross, none of the blood donated locally will go to the Red Cross. The nearest Red Cross blood donation center is in Tulsa, Oklahoma or Wichita, Kansas. However, Amarillo's blood center is open to helping them should they ask.

"When we've offered in the past, they haven't indicated that they wanted our help," said President/CEO of Coffee Memorial, Joe McCormick. "If there's anything we can do to help them blood-wise, we'd be more than happy to do what we could do."

Because taking action before shortages occur is the best way to prevent them to begin with.

"We can't wait until we're too low on supply to react," added McCormick. "We have to keep that level up or else lives could be lost."