Five years ago, Liviya Anderson rushed to the emergency room after her pediatrician noticed hundreds of tiny black dots on her skin caused by bursting blood vessels.
Liviya, now 11, was losing all of her blood internally because her body could not make enough platelets for clotting.
She was eventually diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease called aplastic anemia, which required weekly blood transfusions and almost daily platelet transfusions until she was healthy enough to receive treatment for her immune system.
“She would’ve died without access to that blood and platelets,” said her father, Brian Anderson of Raleigh. “There’s no question.”
But Triangle blood banks, like the ones that helped save Liviya, are running low on supplies in the winter months.
REX Blood Services in Raleigh said it urgently needs donors of all blood types, especially O positive and O negative. Those with blood type AB, the universal donors for platelets, are in high demand.
“As soon as the holidays hit, our donor base is down but the transfusions are up,” said REX Donor Services Coordinator Emilie Sanders Watson.
Trauma victims, cancer patients, premature babies and others rely on blood and platelet transfusions every day. So far in January, REX Blood Services has received 40 percent fewer donors than this time in December. Sanders Watson said this winter’s decrease in blood donations is larger than normal.
Many regular donors canceled appointments due to colds or the flu.
The American Red Cross said that November and December were also slow months.
According to the organization, 1,700 fewer blood drives were held in those months than in the two previous months.
“We didn’t lose any drives due to weather, but it’s challenging to schedule drives for November and December,” said Barry Porter, Red Cross regional CEO for eastern North Carolina. “And no one wants to have a blood drive the first week back to the office.”
Porter said the blood shortage is also a result of schools and universities — some of the main organizers of blood drives — closing during the holidays.
The Red Cross needs about 800 donations every day to provide enough blood for patients in the Carolinas region. The organization serves more than 100 hospitals in the region, which encompasses all of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.
Porter encourages donors to schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets through the Red Cross Blood Donor App, free for iPhone and Android users.
“About 85 percent of people who make the appointment themselves keep the appointment,” Porter said.
The no show rate for those who book appointments through other means is 40 percent.
Donors can give blood once every eight weeks, and platelets once every three days.
“Every two seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion,” Porter said. “Blood is a demand every day.”
Blood donation centers
▪ REX Blood Services Raleigh
2709 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 150
Monday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. 1 p.m.
919 784 4750
▪ American Red Cross Durham Blood Donation Center
4737 University Drive, #3
Monday, 2:30 to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; second Saturday of the month, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; fourth Sunday of the month, noon to 4:30 p.m.
800 733 2767
▪ American Red Cross Cary Blood Donation Center
3700 Regency Parkway Suite 150
Monday, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Thursday, 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; second and fourth Saturdays of the month, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
800 733 2767