Blood supplies across the country remain at dangerously low levels following a severe decline in blood donations leading up to and following the July 4 holiday. In an effort to rebuild both local and national supplies and be prepared for unexpected events, Central Blood Bank is calling on the community to come forward and give blood this week and throughout the remainder of the summer.

Central Blood Bank strives to keep a supply of every blood type on the shelf at all times to be able to meet the needs of patients at the nearly 50 hospitals we serve. Central Blood Bank is the blood services provider for Barnesville Hospital, Wheeling Hospital and Reynolds Memorial Hospital, as well as United Hospital Center, where blood drives are held the first Wednesday of every month at the hospital. Central Blood Bank also serves WVU Medicine, Ruby Memorial Hospital, Berkeley Medical Center, Jefferson Medical Center, Camden Clark Medical Center, Potomac Valley Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital.

Donations from O-negative donors, the universal blood type, are especially important this time of year due to increased accidents and trauma cases. The current O-negative blood supply sits at an approximate two-day supply, which is half of the ideal quantity needed to support patient needs. Additionally, platelet donations, which have a shelf-life of only five days, are in high demand after a slow holiday week. However, donors with all blood types are needed.

Approximately 800 donations are needed this week alone-- which have the power to serve as many as 2,400 patients in Central Blood Bank's service area. Deficits are projected to continue through August. The significant nationwide decline in donations has led to this coordinated call on the public to donate blood.

"Patients, their families and the hospitals in Ohio and West Virginia that Central Blood Bank serves depend on us to deliver on our promise to provide a safe and ample blood supply," said Charles Wilcox, president of Central Blood Bank. "Don't take a vacation from blood donation. In about an hour, one donor can save up to three lives by giving blood."

Central Blood Bank urges both existing and first-time donors of all blood types to visit donateblood.centralbloodbank.org or call 866-366-6771 to schedule an appointment at one of our donor centers or at a mobile blood drive. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome at any of their locations.

On Thursday, Aug. 10, from noon to 5 p.m., a bloodmobile will be at the Elks Lodge Post 1699, 117 North Chestnut St., Barnesville. Use group code C1130022 when registering online or call Rachel at 412-209-7241 to schedule an appointment.

Individuals who are 18 years of age (16 and 17 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health may be eligible to donate blood.