red.cross.jpgAmerican Red Cross officials are urging Bay Area residents to donate blood and platelets immediately to help cover a blood shortage along the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

In recent days, the organization has had to cancel more than 72 blood drives throughout the East Coast due to storm-related issues such as power outages and flooding, leaving the region without 2,400 much-needed units of blood today, Red Cross officials said.

“Since the Bay Area is no stranger to natural disaster, we expect strong local response to Hurricane Irene,” Jeff Meyer, CEO of the Red Cross’ Northern California Blood Services Region, said in a statement.

The organization is stressing the need for platelets, which have a short shelf life of only five days and which hospitals rely on to treat trauma victims, cancer patients and others, according to the Red Cross.

Eligible local residents can make an appointment to give blood by calling 1-800-733-2767 or platelets at 1-888-881-0988.

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