Central Ohio residents can support their local high school music departments and help save a life by participating in the American Red Cross' "Bleed for the Band" program.
Rodney J. Wilson, Red Cross communications manager, said an emergency request has been issued for blood and platelet donors of all blood types.
"One thing we've seen in central Ohio is high usage of blood products for trauma patients," he said.
During the July 4 weekend, three major traumas caused three patients to need a total of 212 blood products. Another surgery patient needed 78 blood products the same week, he said.
For the second consecutive year, the Red Cross is staging the "Bleed for the Band" program in central Ohio, including Franklin, Delaware, Licking and Union counties.
"It started in Michigan, and they had some success with blood donations over the summer," Wilson said. "We found that bands, in particular, responded well to this concept as a community-service project. It earns them dollars to use toward the band for what their needs are. There are different levels, and the school can decide which level they want to participate."
If a band collects between 30 and 50 units of usable blood, the program would receive a $500 scholarship. Those that collect between 51 and 100 units would receive $750.
As of July 17, 43 central Ohio schools already had participated or were scheduled to participate.
Gahanna Lincoln High School band director Rob Cebriak said he hopes the marching Lions could raise more than 30 units of usable blood between 1 and 7 p.m. Friday, July 26, in the band room at the high school. Blood donors should use door 24 by the tennis courts.
Cebriak said a $500 scholarship could help him buy music for the marching band program.
"We could (purchase) five concert band pieces," he said. "They run from $75 up to $210 is the highest I paid lately."
Anyone wanting to help the Gahanna band should schedule an appointment by going to redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-733-2767.
"We can take some walk-ins," Cebriak said. "Because we're limited in time and facility, they encourage appointments. They said summer is one of their neediest times."
Nationwide, Wilson said, donations through the Red Cross were down approximately 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,000 fewer donations than expected. The shortfall is similar to what the Red Cross experienced in June 2012.
High school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of Red Cross donations during the school year, according to Wilson. Donations from those who usually give at such drives drop by more than 80 percent when school is out for the summer.
The Red Cross urgently needs donations to ensure that an adequate blood supply is available for patients all summer long, Wilson said.
Eligible donors with types O-negative, B-negative and A-negative blood are especially encouraged to give.
The Central Ohio Blood Services Region, covering 27 counties, is headquartered in Columbus. It serves 41 hospitals and provides seven blood donation centers.
The central Ohio region annually manufactures more than 1 million blood products in Columbus, making it one of the largest blood product manufacturers in the United States.
To find a blood drive near you, contact the Red Cross at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED CROSS.