Though emergency teams continue to work after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan and caused a massive tsunami Friday morning, representatives from the American Red Cross said Friday afternoon that their resources had not yet been called in to assist in disaster relief for the area.
“Japan has not requested the assistance of the American Red Cross, but we are saying to people that we want to be ready in case of an emergency,” said Bridget Tuohey, a representative for the organization’s southeast Michigan arm. “But there is no specific request at this time.”
A request for donations was put out by the Red Cross in February after adverse weather conditions across the nation caused thousands of planned donations to be canceled, leaving available blood levels dangerously low.
In southeast Michigan, seven planned blood drives were canceled Feb. 2 due to the snowstorm that took place that day.
“At any given moment we have patients relying on lifesaving blood products. And this need is constant, even in emergency situations,” said Diane E. Ward, CEO of the Southeastern Michigan Blood Service Region of the American Red Cross. “The quickest help will come from those local blood donors who are able to safely travel to a blood drive or donor center near them. We are encouraging the public to donate blood and platelets as soon as it is safe to travel in the coming days and weeks.”
In terms of giving aid to affected residents of Japan, Tuohey urged only that people participate in existing planned blood drives, which are scheduled regularly throughout the region.
A blood drive is planned for the for Saturday, March 12, happening from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. They are accepting blood, autologous and double red cell donations.
Online appointment setup for the drive is now closed, but interested donors may make an appointment by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Walk-in donors will also be accepted.
Individual appointments for blood and plasma donations may also be made by calling local American Red Cross offices throughout the region.
To learn more about guidelines and eligibility, visit www.redcrossblood.org.