East Texans find another way to help with Harvey relief by donating blood

A lack of blood donations is causing a critical shortage at Carter BloodCare, which provides a large amount of blood in the region.

The number of donors making appointments and keeping them is not meeting the daily demand of 600-800 patients in need of transfusions, Carter BloodCare said in a news release.

Carter BloodCare covers the North, Central and East Texas regions and works with almost 200 hospitals across more than 50 counties. It is the major provider of blood in the area.

“We provide 95% of blood in the area,” Linda Goelzer, Carter BloodCare director of public relations, said.

Many scheduled surgeries require blood, and then there’s the possibility of a mass casualty, along with wrecks or other major events, she said.

“Blood transfusions are used every day for planned surgeries. Right now, we’re not even meeting the needs for planned occurrences,” Goelzer said. “We don’t feel well-prepared if something unplanned were to happen.”

In addition to blood, platelets are also in short supply. The blood components are used to stop bleeding and transfused to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, according to the blood center.

The number of blood donors giving platelets in relation to patients in need is not enough to keep up with orders, the news release stated.

“We are appealing to the greater community’s altruism, as blood donors are an essential part of the health care fabric in our communities,” said Dr. Merlyn Sayers, president and chief executive officer of Carter BloodCare. “Without volunteer donors, there is no other way to provide blood or platelet transfusions for patients.”

Goelzer said blood donation is a gift that truly is ongoing and lifesaving.

“We’re asking anyone who is eligible to make an appointment, to donate and keep their appointments,” she said.

A minimum weight of 110 pounds is required, and donors must feel well on the day they give. A government-issued photo ID must be presented at each donation. The donor can be 16, with parental consent; those 17 and older can give on their own.

People can call or text 800-366-2834, or visit carterbloodcare.org to make an appointment.

Goelzer noted that those with appointments can download the Carter BloodCare app or visit the website to fill out the donation questionnaire to save time.

“There is no other way to get this (blood),” Goelzer said. “We really need people to get enthusiastic about this during the holidays (and into the new year).”

For the next few weeks, the blood program needs to see 1,000 donors at the 25 Carter BloodCare centers as well as community blood drives. “We’ve had about half of that or under half of that in the past several weeks and it’s not sustainable,” she said.

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Reporter

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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