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Red Cross pleads with donors to help fill blood shortage due to Hurricane Matthew

PORTLAND, Maine — The American Red Cross nationwide is urging blood donors in areas of the United States not affected by Hurricane Matthew to attend local blood drives to help offset the shortage of blood and blood products that is occurring on the East Coast due to necessary cancellations of blood drives there.

Blood drive cancellations more than doubled in the 24 hours before the hurricane arrived, and its arrival has forced the cancellation of approximately 30 Red Cross blood drives in Georgia and South Carolina resulting in nearly 1,200 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Dozens of additional blood drive cancellations are possible along the southern East Coast depending on the path and impact of the storm.

Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in demand. If donation centers are forced to close over the next few days, the Red Cross is at risk of being unable to collect more than 100 additional platelet donations.

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On Friday, Oct. 7, two Maine teams are leaving for South Carolina to assist in the massive relief effort as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the southeast coast.  Both teams are composed of Red Cross volunteers who are driving Maine’s Emergency Response Vehicles to South Carolina to distribute bottled water, snacks and supply kits.

Kendra Atwood of Norridgewock and Bill Thomas of Woodland are leaving from Bangor, and Joyce Baron of Athens and Todd Tisdale of Farmington are leaving from Lewiston.

Kendra Atwood is a seven-year volunteer with the organization who will be traveling to South Carolina on her first deployment. She is a certified Red Cross instructor who teaches CPR, First-Aid and Automated External Defibrillator classes, as well as serving as a Disaster Action Team Leader in Somerset County.

Bill Thomas is a nine-year volunteer with the organization who has been deployed to disaster incidents, including Flint, Mich., Superstorm Sandy and flooding in South Carolina.

Most recently, Joyce Baron drove one of Maine’s Emergency Response Vehicles to Louisiana to assist those affected by the devastating flooding in the region.

Todd Tisdale is three-year volunteer with the organization and has previously been deployed to Texas and Louisiana.

In addition to shelters, the Red Cross has more than 500 disaster workers and 90 response vehicles ready to help in the affected states and more help is standing by. The Red Cross also has prepositioned more than 30 trailer loads of shelter supplies, ready-to-eat meals, clean-up and comfort kits.

The Red Cross is closely monitoring the storm and working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners to make sure people get the help they need.

Five Red Cross in Maine volunteers have been deployed to the affected states. They are Darlene Helms of Hampden, Alyson Finn of Portland, Ron Martel of Biddeford, Yvette Lizotte of Norway, and Larry Aufiero of Cumberland.

To donate blood, appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

You also may help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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