A blood shortage in some cities in Missouri and Illinois has prompted the American Red Cross to hand out T-shirts to donors through the end of July.
“We did it last summer, and it was a major success,” said Jim Williams, manager of communications for American Red Cross Blood Services in St. Louis.
Williams said that in addition, postcards are sent and phone calls are made to encourage donations along with an effort to create additional blood drives and have donation centers open longer.
Beyond promotional tools, the American Red Cross made an official appeal to donors June 8 in response to the shortage facing the Missouri-Illinois Region.
“We need donors to come out,” Williams said. “We’re hurting; it’s a very critical situation right now.”
He called this summer’s situation “grim” compared with past summers.
“It is ranking up there about the same as the last two or three summers,” Williams said. “It keeps getting continually worse. The shortage used to happen around the Fourth of July, but in recent years, it has begun around Memorial Day.”
About 1,200 units are needed to meet the demand of hospital patients each day, said Jean Campbell, district recruitment manager at the Columbia branch of the Red Cross.
Jeff Hoelscher, a University Hospital spokesman, said the shortage has not affected the hospital, which gets its blood products from the American Red Cross.
Campbell said the offer of T-shirts and media attention have helped increase the number of blood donors.
“The center found itself turning some people away this week,” Campbell said. “But we would sure love to have them come back and try again.”