blood donation

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood banks in Michigan had much lower donation rates this week due to the weather.

Michigan Blood is a non-profit blood bank that usually collects 2,200 units of blood every week.

Spokesman Jim Childress says this week, donations dropped to 800.

“We do need people to donate at a higher rate than they normally do, and take this very seriously and help out the nation's blood supply,” says Childress.

The group is offering donors $10 Meijer gift cards and expanding its hours of operation through next Friday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood donations tend to drop at hospitals and clinics across Michigan at this time of year.

That's why officials are urging Michiganders to consider rolling up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift.

Dan Fox, with the American Red Cross, says between school vacations, snowy weather and busy schedules, the number of blood donations drop over the holidays, while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

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The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations. Donations were down about 10% in June and the first week of July, which translates to about 50,000 fewer donations overall.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Contract talks are set to resume tomorrow between the American Red Cross and its two striking unions.

The strike that started March 30 has greatly slowed blood donations for large parts of Michigan.

The American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region tries to collect 700 units of blood a day. Since the strike began, they’ve only been able to collect about 100 units a day.   

About 200 members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union  and the Teamsters went on strike more than a week ago.   The union members have been working without a contract for several years.  

The unions say the two sides have not been able to resolve safety and collective bargaining issues. The Red Cross contends health care costs are the main sticking point in the unresolved contract.

The strike has affected blood collection in 65 Michigan counties, from Kalamazoo and Lansing to the northern parts of the state.       

Red Cross blood drives in southeast Michigan are unaffected.

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More than 200 American Red Cross workers in Michigan went on strike this morning.

Staff members represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580 walked out because of a dispute over health care benefits.

The strike affects blood collection centers in Kalamazoo, Jackson, Lansing, Flint and parts of northern Michigan.

Monica Stoneking is communications manager for the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross.

She says the strike will impact an already-low blood supply.

"That's about 700 units of blood every day that the Great Lakes region needs to collect," Stoneking says. "And if our staff members are on strike, we are limited as to the  number of blood drives we are able to hold."

Stoneking says blood donations are also lower because fewer people donated during Michigan's recent nice weather, because students have been been on spring break.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Contract talks are scheduled this weekend for two American Red Cross unions.  A strike last week idled Red Cross workers in 65 Michigan counties.  

Last week’s two-day walkout ended after union leaders said they received assurances that this weekend’s planned contract talks would be "serious" in nature.  But the unions also scheduled a new strike deadline for next Wednesday. That irked some officials with the American Red Cross.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 A strike by American Red Cross blood workers in Michigan has been suspended after two days.   More than 200 American Red Cross workers started walking picket lines Wednesday.    The unions representing the Red Cross workers called the strike, after working for more than 2 years without a contract.   

The strike affected blood donations in 65 Michigan counties.  The strike did not include 8 counties in southeast Michigan.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The American Red Cross may be hit by a strike this week by some of its unionized employees.   The picket signs are stacked up and ready to go at the union hall in south Lansing.  

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  The American Red Cross says they're facing a critical shortage to the nation's blood supply. And blood donations often drop in the summer when people are busy or traveling.

So they want you to give.

When we posted information about the appeal on our Facebook page, it sparked a debate about blood donor screening.

Not everyone can give blood. Only about 37%  of us can. Donors are pre-screened for potential exposure to diseases to keep the blood supply safe.

But many people feel some healthy donors are needlessly kept from donating blood.

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We spoke with Bridget Tuohey of the Red Cross of Southeast Michigan about today's urgent nationwide appeal for blood donations, after tornados and other disasters impacted the agency's ability to collect blood this summer.

Tuohey says Michigan has been critically short of blood for three weeks now. 

Normally, the state can turn to other areas of the country to get blood when there's not enough donation here.  That's not the case now, says Tuohey, and the Red Cross can no longer completely fill standing orders for blood from state hospitals.  Some hospitals are postponing elective surgeries as a result.

The Red Cross needs all blood types, but especially A-negative, B-negative and O-negative.   O-negative is called the universal blood type because it can be given to anyone in an emergency.

People who can donate can walk in to a clinic.  But Tuohey says it's best to make an appointment ahead of time by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767.)