Blood donations needed forfire victims

The American Red Cross and local blood centers are urging Bay Area residents this week to donate blood to aid burn victims of the 18-plus catastrophic fires burning in Southern California.

Although Blood Centers of the Pacific, a local member of statewide and national blood associations, has not been officially asked to send blood to aid burn victims of the fires in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties, the San Francisco-based blood center is preparing to aid its sister center in Ventura County, according to Lisa Bloch, a spokeswoman for the blood center.

“It's not looking good,” said Bloch. “We are on standby to send blood if it's needed.”

Regions within the six counties have been consumed by as many as 18 separate fires that have burned more than 400,000 acres as of 3 p.m. today, a Cal Fire spokeswoman said. One person has died and at least 40 injuries have been reported due to the flames, according to Cal Fire spokeswoman Mary Anne Aldrich.

Bloch said if the Southern California blood center decides it needs more blood, officials from the Northern California centers would fly the blood to Los Angeles.

“We all have a plan to share blood when it's needed,” Bloch said.

“The nature of blood centers is to share in times of disaster.”

Despite the blood centers' generosity, the centers are still facing a shortage in donations and often do not meet their 500-pint-per-day requirement of blood donations, according to Bloch.

When the centers do not receive their necessitated daily amount, they have blood imported from other regions.

“We supply blood for 42 hospitals, including all San Francisco hospitals,” Bloch said. “Regularly we do not have enough blood. We would like to be able to help other parts of the country when they need it, but we never have enough.”

Bloch added that the state overall recurrently faces a blood shortage, but in the face of a natural disaster, such as the current wildfires, the blood centers do not want to be in a situation where emergency blood donations are needed.

“People will step up to the plate in times of disaster, but we try to remind people that we need blood every day, all the time,” Bloch said.

According to the American Red Cross, any person age 17 or older who weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good health may be eligible to donate blood.

To make an appointment to donate blood, call (800) 448-3543 or visit www.beadonor.com. For more information on Blood Centers of the Pacific, visit www.bloodcenters.org.

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