Red Cross calls for blood, platelet donations

Blood donations have dropped 20 percent over the past three weeks to the American Red Cross' Southern Blood Services Region, which has scheduled several drives to help replenish supplies.

The drop is not unusual for this time of year, Red Cross spokeswoman April Phillips said.

During winter, people are busy planning holiday travel and events or have seasonal illnesses that prevent them from making regular donations. At the same time, high school and college students, who account for about 20 percent of the blood collected each year, are on break and don't participate in school drives, she said.

The shortage was more acute last year in the region -- which covers Georgia, Northeast Florida and part of South Carolina -- when unseasonably cold temperatures kept more prospective donors at home.

This year's decline is not severe enough at this point concern area hospitals.

"WellStar Health System is not experiencing a blood supply shortage at this time," spokesman Keith Bowermaster said.

Phillips said the Red Cross "moves blood to where it is needed most" through a national inventory. Georgia imports a lot of its blood supply, and last year it brought in more than 40,000 units of blood from other states. "Not that Georgians don't donate," Phillips said, "but there are top-notch hospital systems here, and people come from other states to get treatment but don't stay to replenish."

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