WHEELING - It's a cold, snowy January and head colds and cases of the flu are plentiful, leaving many local hospitals low on blood donations from healthy donors.
That is one reason the American Red Cross is urging all local residents in good health to brave the cold weather and donate a pint of blood at the 27th-annual Ohio Valley Media Day blood drive from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
The annual event is the largest single-day blood drive in the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, which serves six states including most of West Virginia and parts of Ohio.
"We need people to come out and donate blood in January, because it is a time blood donations tend to decline. It's cold outside and people are facing illnesses, so often people cannot donate blood," Cheryl Gergely, communications manager of the Greater Alleghenies region, said. "At the same time, the need for blood continues for patients in hospitals."
The Red Cross is especially in need of O negative blood, the universal blood type that can be transfused to patients of all blood types, as well as B negative and A negative, according to Gergely.
The goal this year is to bring in at least 500 people to produce 400 successful blood donations.
"One out of 10 people admitted to the hospital needs blood," Gergely said. "Blood is needed by cancer patients, people with blood disorders, premature babies, transplant recipients, trauma victims and more. Blood donated at the Media Day blood drive may give someone another day, another week, another month to spend with loved ones and friends."
The donations will benefit area hospitals including Ohio Valley Medical Center, East Ohio Regional Hospital, Barnesville Hospital, Trinity Medical Center and Wetzel County Hospital.
Individuals 17 years old or older weighing 110 pounds or more may be eligible to donate blood. A 16-year-old can donate with signed permission from a parent. Individuals should bring a blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification when coming to donate.
Gergely said blood donors must be healthy without cold or flu symptoms and must not be taking antibiotics at the time of donation.
Free parking at the Intermodal Transportation Center, free day care services and refreshments such as pizza, salad, fruit, doughnuts and soft drinks will be provided at the event. Donors can take advantage of free transportation provided by Airport Limousine to and from the event by calling 304-232-1175 to make advance arrangements. Media Day T-shirts will also be handed out to all donors while supplies last.