The Red Cross says it’s low on blood in Utah, desperately urges people to donate

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Phlebotomist Christen Lopez organizes blood samples at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Murray Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.

Murray • The Red Cross needs you. It needs your blood. Badly.

Blood supplies are running low, locally and nationally. The organization has put out a call for blood and platelet donors of all blood types.

Donations have dwindled during the summer months. It’s happening across the country, but it’s amplified in Utah because of the holidays.

“It’s a little tougher for us locally, because we have both July 24th and July Fourth,” said Sheri VanBibber of the Red Cross. “But the need for blood hasn’t changed. Not only are there accidents happening that the hospitals need blood for, but there’s just the everyday surgeries and the leukemia and cancer patients that are at risk the most, and we definitely need to have blood there for them."

The Red Cross has been on “urgent need” status since last week.

“We need every blood type right now, for fear that we’re going to get lower and lower,” VanBibber said. “We didn’t want to get to this point. We can’t afford for supplies to get any lower.”

Doug Kildoo of Sandy said he’s been donating blood since he was a teenager. “And for the last six years or so, I’ve been donating platelets about once a month.”

Twice this month.

“I came an extra time because of the shortage,” he said.

Amanda Johnson, a seventh-grade math teacher at Eisenhower Junior High in Taylorsville, came in to American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Murray to donate platelets for the first time.

“Platelets seem very impactful because it’s mostly for cancer patients,” she said. “I feel like I’m really doing something. If it takes a half-hour to donate blood and save a life — if it takes 2½ hours for a platelet donation to help a cancer patient — that’s something I can do.”

Kildoo echoed those thoughts.

“We always say we want to help out society,” he said. “And I don’t have a lot of cash. I can’t give the Red Cross hundreds of dollars. So I just do the platelets. That’s my way of giving back.”

And each donation can help multiple people in need.

“It impacts up to three patients with the platelets, the whole red cells and the plasma,” VanBibber said. “It has the potential to do that within four days of when they donate.”

The Red Cross sends out emails telling donors where their blood has gone, or donors can download the Red Cross app and follow their blood that way.

“When I donated on June 11, they sent me an email and my blood went to someone in South Carolina,” Johnson said. “That's not what I expected, but it made me feel good about donating.”

To make a donation, go online to RedCross.org to find the location of a blood drive near you. You also can make an appointment to donate at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center at 6616 S. 900 East, Murray, online or by calling 800-733-2767. There are other locations in Ogden, Provo, Orem, Layton and Logan.

“We need every donor we can get,” VanBibber said.