Chattanooga’s blood supply critically low, donors needed after fall break

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Phlebotomist Meryl Sutton, right, prepares the arm of Ella Hildebrand for a blood donation on Sept. 28.

Blood Assurance is pleading for people to give blood after last week's donations fell 90% compared to the prior week, largely attributed to fall break, according to a Monday news release.

As of Monday, Blood Assurance -- which is the sole blood supplier for hospitals in the greater Chattanooga area -- was down to a one-day supply of O-positive, O-negative and B-negative blood units available to cover more than 70 regional medical facilities, according to the release.

"With so many folks traveling, fall break really hurt us," Dr. Liz Culler, chief medical officer for Blood Assurance, said in the news release. "Blood transfusions are taking place every two seconds, so it's imperative we get people to our donation centers and mobile blood drives over the next couple of days."

Blood platelet supply is also critically low, with less than 30 units on hand, the release states. Blood Assurance aims to maintain a stock of more than 60 blood platelet units each day in order to treat a range of conditions, including traumas, bleeding during surgery, anemia, organ transplants and cancer.

Walk-in donations are always accepted, but potential donors can schedule an appointment at, or by calling 800-962-0628, or texting BAGIVE to 999777.

Donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental consent, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors should be well hydrated, avoid caffeine and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.

Through the end of the month, those who donate will receive an autumn-themed coffee mug from Blood Assurance.

-- Compiled by Elizabeth Fite