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National alert issued for Platelet and O Blood donations

According to a recent press release from The AABB Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism, Hurricane Matthew has forced the cancellations of many blood drives along the Southeast coast of the U.S., impacting the nation's blood supply. The task force is urging eligible donors across America to give in the coming days and weeks to help meet these needs.

"We are asking all potential donors, both current and first-timers, to roll up a sleeve and make a commitment to donate blood as soon as possible," said Dennis Todd, chair of the task force. The release goes on to explain that platelets of all types, and type O blood, especially type O negative red blood cells, are critically needed at this time. Donors should schedule a blood donation appointment as soon as possible according to the task force. The number for making appointments in Kern County with Houchin Community Blood Bank is 661-616-2505.

Houchin has been contacted regarding the availability of platelets and O blood to support those affected by the hurricane, but been unable to help due to low collections of those blood products. Only about half the needed platelets are coming in each day, and the inventory levels of O+ and O- blood keep sinking too low to provide the cushion necessary for existing patient needs. "It's obvious from the destruction back East that people cannot get to the blood banks, and mobile busses cannot get out. We really wish we could help, but we just don't have the products on hand to do so", said Carola Enriquez, Director of Community Development. "We could help if people come in and donate enough platelets and O blood products, and I hope they will", she added".

Platelets are critical to support patients on chemotherapy and with any bleeding disorder or trauma. Type O blood is the only blood type that can be safely transfused to most patients with other blood types and is frequently used in emergency situations.

Hours at the Bakersfield donor centers are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m .; and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Blood donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be 16 years of age or older. Donors under 18 must have a parental consent form. More information on blood donation is available from (661) 323-4222, or www. hcbb.com.