With the withdrawal of blood and plasma donated during the peak West Nile mosquito season, supplies are low at Georgia hospitals. Substantially more donors are needed to avoid a serious shortage over the holidays, according to American Red Cross Blood Services.
This is the worst time of year to deplete blood and plasma inventories because donations always decrease in late December, creating a critically small blood inventory, officials said.
Last week, The American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, the Department of Defense and the American Association of Blood Banks agreed to voluntarily withdraw blood products collected in Georgia, Florida and other states endemic for West Nile virus. Blood industry officials made this decision after conferring with the CDC to help safeguard the nation's blood supply against possible transmission of West Nile virus.
The Red Cross estimates that increased blood donations will be necessary for the next three weeks to make up for the blood and plasma taken from supplies. Numerous blood drives are planned in Valdosta until early January to make it as easy as possible for people to make a donation. Because people can safely donate every 56 days, Red Cross officials are urging donors to give again, as soon as they are eligible. To be a blood donor, you must be at least 17 and weigh 110 pounds.
To find the most convenient blood drive, call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (1-800-448-3543). Valdosta's community donor center is at 2517 Bemiss Road. Donor hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Special holiday hours are: Christmas Eve, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dec. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and New Years Eve, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, or call 241-1141 for an appointment.