Donors are asked to register and schedule an appointment on redcrossblood.com or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Sonora Blood Donation Center is at 850 Sanguinetti Road in Sonora. The blood bank is open Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bad weather, illness and people traveling have contributed to a nationwide shortage of blood for medical procedures, Red Cross officials said this week.

Christine Welch, communications manager for California Blood Services Region, said she did not have totals for the Sonora Red Cross Donation Center, but the Northern California Blood Services Region reported 750 fewer donations in November and December than is needed to meet the region’s demands.

The Red Cross needs approximately 275 blood donations every day in the region, she added.

“It’s been lighter than anticipated. They have a need for donors to come in and donate either blood or platelets and it will go to local area hospitals first and can then go where needed,” she said.

Welch said that another Battle of the Badges, which pits emergency service agencies against each other to see who can donate the most blood, would likely be scheduled for February to drum up public support for blood donation.

In September, 90 pints of blood were collected over the four days of the blood drive, during which the Sonora City Fire Department beat out the Sonora Police Department.

Blood donations are standardized at 1 pint — there are 8 to 9 pints in the human body at any given time — and are first sent to a national testing lab and identified with a specific blood-type before being cleared for use at area hospitals.

“Blood donations are being distributed to hospitals as fast they are coming in,” Welch said. “We’re in a critical need.”

Donors must be at least 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health and feeling well.

Blood and platelets are often used for surgeries, emergency treatments and for cancer patients.

Welch said that Type O negative blood was the most needed because it can be transfused to almost anyone and is commonly used in trauma situations.

Donors with Type B negative or Type AB were still encouraged to donate, she said.

There are a dozen days open for blood donations at the Sonora Blood Donation Center beginning on Friday through the end of the month.

The American Red Cross Sonora Blood Donation Center was formerly a Delta Blood Bank. It opened as a Red Cross site March 2017.

Nationwide, severe weather prompted the closure of more than 150 blood drives, causing 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected, a Red Cross press release stated. Nationwide, 28,000 fewer blood donations were collected than what was needed.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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