HEALTH

Inova hospitals make urgent call for blood donations

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Local hospitals are urgently asking people to roll up their sleeves and give blood. 

At minimum, 250 donors are needed daily to maintain a healthy blood inventory at Inova hospitals alone. But currently, the available blood supply is at emergency levels as blood donation chairs sit empty.

Brenda Tingen works for Inova Blood Donor Services and has been in the blood business for more than 30 years. She says this is one of the greatest needs she’s seen in her entire career.

“I was in a car accident Monday night,” she said. “I was darn glad I didn't need to go have a transfusion because I know it would have been a challenge for the blood bank.”

The supply is dangerously slipping close to below the demand. Eligible donors are asked to give as soon as possible.

Shirley Johnson, of Falls Church, joined about 60 other donors Thursday at Inova Fairfax Hospital. A year ago, her life was in jeopardy, but a blood transfusion saved it.

“It's about time that somebody stands up and helps others that need to be helped,” Johnson said.

“I had an ovarian cyst that burst in my stomach and my blood was trapped in my stomach and they said I needed it and I had it,” she added.

David Dewitt is doing his part to make sure others have blood available too. He started donating when his wife needed five transfusions after a ruptured appendix went undiagnosed.

“After that I made a vow to go and replenish her supply and make blood donations and after I reached the 5 that she had taken up, I just continued because it's a relatively easy, painless process,” said he said.

Daniel Zambito is leading by example.

“I figured there's nothing better I can do with my time then come down and show Madison how you can help others,” he said.

Health officials hope others will start donating before the blood runs dry.

“We'd like to be able to have a good enough blood supply so we don't have to say 'oh my gosh, we're almost out. Please come,” Tingen said.

The drop in supply may be attributed to a lack of sponsored blood drives. A big source of donations has been from high school students, which make up 45 percent of eligible donors. But since schools are on summer break, they’re not sponsoring any drives at this time.

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