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Critically low levels of blood available at local blood banks and donors needed

 The South Bend Medical Foundation, a blood bank that provides blood to all of St. Joseph County is facing a major issue - one that it has not seen in a while. 

Christina Tembo, Manager of Blood Donor Recruitment at South Bend Medical Foundation says around this time of year the center typically see fewer donors. 

“Over the weekend we really started feeling that the blood supply was getting to a level that we were not comfortable with,” says Tembo.  

Today they are extremely low on two blood types A negative and O negative.  There is always a need for blood but in these circumstances it is crucial for the community to get out and donate now. 

Nancy Leonard says she donates blood about four times a year. But today she had no idea the hospital her daughter was having surgery at was facing a shortage. 

“My older daughter is having surgery and so we decided, me and my other daughter, to come over and donate blood while we were waiting,” says Leonard.  

Tembo says that around the holidays the center typically sees a decrease in donors, but nothing like what it is experiencing this year. 

“We need about 125 donors a day to keep our blood supply at a safe level. In this donor center we haven't yet had 10 today,” describes Tembo. 

Today the center has reached a critically low amount of O negative, so low they cannot supply this blood type. 

With the bank not being able to provide O negative they will need to contact other banks in Indiana and Michigan. Tembo says this is a more difficult process and blood donors could help solve the problem.

O negative is a universal blood type needed the most in emergency rooms and trauma centers.

“A trauma could use 100 units of blood for one trauma patient at one time. So I think the community doesn't realize how quickly a patient in the trauma unit could go through blood,” says Tembo.  

That's 100 donors needed to fill the need of one trauma patient. For donor Nancy Leonard, not only is it important for her and her family to donate while her daughter is in the hospital; but also donate for the needs of others. 

“I'm healthy so I think it is my responsibility to donate. If you can you should, if you can you should,” emphasizes Leonard. 

Blood donor centers are located in South Bend, Mishawaka, and Elkhart. To find hours and locations of the closest center to you visit www.givebloodnow.com
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