Blood donations up nationwide

by Natsuko Fukue

In addition to money, food, blankets and medicine, many across Japan are donating blood to help the survivors of Friday’s devastation in the Tohoku region.

In Tokyo, 2,284 people showed up at Japanese Red Cross Society blood donation centers Sunday, up from 1,944 a week before, said spokesman Koji Tsuchida, who noted blood donations are up nationwide.

The amount of blood donated was 44 percent higher in Tokyo than they needed on the day, he said.

Even far from the quake-hit Tohoku and Kanto regions, donors are showing up in double the usual numbers, said Fukuoka branch spokesman Koichi Sato. He added many dropped by donation centers in the city’s shopping districts last weekend.

“People seem to feel the need to do something to help quake victims,” Sato said.

The Red Cross was turning donors away Wednesday because supply is adequate for now. Donors are being asked to return in several days or weeks to keep the blood supply fresh. Platelets last just four days, while red blood cells are good for three weeks.

Generally, donors are allowed to give blood only once every two weeks to 16 days. If many donate at the same time, hospitals could run short of blood in the near future, Tsuchida said.

He speculated that the rise in blood donations is due to the high visibility of victims at the moment.

“But this situation will continue for a while,” he said. “There are always patients who need blood. It would be great if people kept donating blood over the long term.”

Blood donated nationwide is sent to the Tokyo headquarters, from where it is delivered to affected areas.