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Red Cross' 'Missing Types' campaign stresses need for donations of every blood type

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 12. 2018 8:36PM
American Red Cross workers take blood from volunteers at the 27th annual Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive at the Radisson in Manchester in 2011. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER ­— The American Red Cross is looking for blood of all types.

The Red Cross kicked off an international campaign Monday, urging regular donors and newcomers alike to roll up their sleeves and help restock dwindling blood supplies during the summer.

Called “Missing Types,” the campaign is meant to remind donors that all the different blood groups are in demand.

“Many may not realize just how important the letters A, B and O can be until they’re gone,” said Maria Devlin, CEO of the American Red Cross New Hampshire and Vermont region, during a campaign kickoff event at Elliot Hospital on Monday.

The Red Cross and partnering organizations are dropping the letters of the main blood groups on signs, social media and other channels during the three-week campaign. The omissions stood out Monday on an “Elli t H spit l” sign posted in the Elliot conference center where the kickoff event took place.

“When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking,” Devlin said. “And when A, B and O types are missing from hospital shelves, patient care could be impacted.”

The Red Cross cited results from a recent survey that found that nearly three of four people vastly underestimate how frequently blood transfusions occur; many indicated they had never considered the availability of particular blood types.

Dr. Greg Baxter, chief medical officer for Elliot Health System, said a blood transfusion happens about every two seconds nationwide, a frequency that indicates how great the need is to have blood of all types available.

“Without a blood supply, it can be a life-threatening event,” Baxter said.

Suzanne Singer, who sits on the board for the Red Cross of New Hampshire and Vermont, said blood donations have decreased nationwide over the past year and there have been fewer new donors.

“During the summertime it is so important to continue to donate because our patients never go on vacation. Their vacations are often spent in hospitals,” Singer said.

The event also included an Elliot employee who has been donating for nearly 35 years. Vinny Willmott, who works as a prep cook at the hospital, said his personal total has reached 14 gallons, 2 pints and he plans to continue donating until he hits 20 gallons.

“I’ll keep going until I can’t give. A pint at a time,” Willmott said.

Willmott explained his reasons for donating, which he said started in 1974, when he was serving in the Coast Guard and a colleague was in an accident.

Tracy Barrett, who works in imaging at the hospital, attended the event after already planning to donate this summer after a chat with her daughter, a pre-med student at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.

“With her experience and exposure more and more and seeing what people need, she was like, ‘Mom, it’s time.’ So we put it on our summer bucket list,” Barrett said. “Totally coincidence. We’ve often talked about it and just haven’t acted on it.” The Elliot is hosting a drive on Monday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. People looking to donate can find blood drives and locations in their area at https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.

“It takes little time. It doesn’t hurt a lot and if we can generate more awareness for the need, we all are better for it,” Mayor Joyce Craig said.


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