By Monica Pryts

Herald Staff Writer

American Red Cross has declared a blood supply shortage and is encouraging all eligible donors to come forward.

“All blood types are definitely needed. We need people to come out,” said Tara Harrington, public relations specialist for the Greater Alleghenies Region of the Red Cross, which includes Mercer County.

Blood donations always slow down this time of year because people go on vacation, but donations this year seem especially low, she said.

Twenty percent of the Red Cross’ annual collection comes from students who donate blood during drives at their high schools, colleges and universities, and school is out for the summer.

“We don’t have that donor pool to draw from at all,” Ms. Harrington said.

The current campaign for the Greater Alleghenies Region, which is called “Join the Race to Save Lives,” kicked off May 1 and ends Oct. 31. The goal is to collect 6,014 units of all blood types. As of Thursday morning, 1,860 units had been collected.

Red Cross especially needs people with O-negative type blood to donate because it is the universal donor blood type. It can be given to anyone who needs blood, regardless of their blood type, Ms. Harrington said.

To date, the Red Cross has collected 74 units of O negative blood and their goal is to collect 595 units. The Red Cross has less than a one-day supply of O negative blood, she said.

Eligible donors can donate blood every 56 days, which equals six times a year. Statistics show people donate blood about 1.7 times a year, Ms. Harrington said.

“We need to bump that up as well,” she said.

Eligibility requirements for donating blood are easy to understand, she said. Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health.

“There is that 60 percent of that population that can donate and only five percent donate regularly,” she said.

Everyone who donates blood during the campaign will receive a short-sleeve T-shirt in June, a beverage cooler in July and August and a long-sleeve T-shirt in September in October and will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to the 2008 Daytona 500, including hotel and airfare.

For more information about the American Red Cross and the current blood drive campaign, call them at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit their Web site at

BLOOD DRIVES -- Week of June 18, 2007:

Mercer County Chapter of the American Red Cross will hold these blood drives this week:

• 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday at West Middlesex Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6233, 3747 New Castle Road.

• Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 3325 Morefield Road, Hermitage.

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, 740 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage.

The blood drives are open to the community. To make appointments, call 724-981-3205. All donors for the month of June will receive a T-shirt.

Central Blood Bank will hold these blood drives this week:

• Noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday at 12 Pine Grove Village Drive, Pine Township.

• Noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday in Greenville Plaza West, Hempfield Township.

• Noon to 7 p.m. Thursday at 12 Pine Grove Village Drive, Pine Township.

• 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Greenville Plaza West, Hempfield Township.

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