The blood and platelet supply across Northeast Alabama is at a critical level, according to Blood Assurance.

As of Thursday, the regional blood center had about a one-day’s supply of O-negative, A-positive and B-negative blood on its shelves. Additionally, the nonprofit announced it only had 19 platelet units to distribute to more than 70 hospitals across the region. Platelets are needed by patients who experience trauma, bleeding during surgery, patients with aplastic anemia, transplant recipients, patients with leukemia and patients receiving treatment for cancer.

“In order to adequately provide for area hospitals, Blood Assurance needs a five-day supply of blood and platelets at all times,” according to Christopher Swafford, Blood Assurance’s chief operating officer. “Platelets are unique because of their short shelf life. We need those collections regularly.”

Officials at Blood Assurance are also concerned the supply could dwindle even more because of the upcoming holiday.

“During any holiday, Memorial Day included, we always anticipate a significant reduction in the supply, said Swafford. “People are focused on their holiday plans and not donating blood. During these times, however, more individuals are on the roads, leading to additional accidents that could result in traumatic injuries requiring a transfusion. We need to be prepared.”

As an incentive, Blood Assurance is giving away a $20 Mastercard or Amazon gift card to all platelet, O-negative and A-positive double red cell donors now through Sunday, May 22. Moreover, from May 23-30, all donors will be eligible to win a Big Green Egg BBQ grill.

To find the nearest blood drive or donation facility, and to schedule an appointment, donors can visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule. Donors may also call 800-962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 999777

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.

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