Amid blood shortage, donors help purchase state-of-the-art Red Cross bloodmobile

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The American Red Cross is dealing with a critical summer blood shortage, so it's offering incentives to get more people to donate by the end of the month.

"We were operating in less than a five-day supply," said Tiffany Taylor, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. "We like to operate in at least a five-day supply."

Throughout this region, the Red Cross said it must collect 450 pints of blood daily to meet the needs of hospital patients. 

On Tuesday, ribbon cutting ceremony unveiled a new "bloodmobile." Community donors helped raise $375,000 for the bloodmobile, which has five donor beds and three health history booths, allowing more blood to be collected faster.

Lance Mann, the Louisville Red Cross Biomedical Board Chair says, "The ones that we have are a little old," said Lance Mann, Louisville Red Cross Biomedical Board Chair. "They go about 1,800 miles a month. They collect about 6,000 units per bus, per year."

The new bloodmobile allows people to donate power reds, meaning you can donate two units of blood instead of just one. Eighty percent of the nation's blood supplies come from donations made at mobile units.

Long-time donor Joe Turner has donated more than 220 platelets over the last 10 years.

"I've been doing it every two weeks," he said. "My dad got cancer 13 years ago. When he did, I had been giving whole blood regularly and realized then how important it would be to start doing platelets.

"Platelets are a key clotting component often used with cancer patients to help stop internal bleeding."

The Red Cross said while some donate just to help, others may need an extra push.

"One of the main incentives we are offering to eligible donors, when you come in between now and Aug. 31, you can receive a $5 e-gift certificate, which is good at a lot of places  like Target and," Taylor said.

Some previous donors also received emails giving them an extra gift card if they came in to donate.

"Right now, the supply is getting better," Taylor said. "We do know thousands have answered our call after we initially informed everyone about the shortage in early July."

For more information on donating, click here.

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