In an effort to increase the blood and platelet flow in the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac region for the Red Cross, a new facility is opening at 2720 Prosperity Avenue in Fairfax.
Red Cross spokesperson Tracy Laubach described their intentions.
"The mission of revamping these donor centers is to get donors to come back," Laubach said.
On Saturday, Aug. 16, the whole blood and platelet donation center at 2810 Old Lee Highway will close it's doors for the last time at 1 p.m. and all the equipment will be transferred over to the new facility in time for opening on the following Monday morning.
"They'll be here around the clock until we open Monday," Laubach added.
The old space, which housed both the platelets and whole blood collection, was about 3,000 square feet, while their new office is nearly 5,000 square feet. Mark Cones, manager of the Red Cross Northern Virginia blood collection, welcomes the new facility.
"The whole blood side [at old location] does get crowded," Cones said.
THE NEW FACILITY is in the Prosperity Business Park off Gallows Road and Route 50. Inside, the facility has several region offices, six health history rooms, a large donation room for beds, a canteen area and a processing lab.
"It's a state of the art facility. It's more user friendly for the staff as well as the donors," Cones said.
The Red Cross is consolidating several of their facilities in the region. In addition, they have a new facility at 2825 E Street in Washington D.C.
"Blood is donated here, it all goes back to Baltimore for testing and then out to hospitals," Laubach said.
It is behind an effort to make it easier and more attractive for donors, according to Laubach. She said they are suffering from a nationwide shortage of blood and need 1,300 units, or pints, to fulfill their requirements.
Cones sees the shortage this summer as well.
"We are in dire straits, not just in the Red Cross. Summertime is vacation time," he said.
On the Red Cross website, one section entitled "Red Cross asks the Public To Step Forward" calls the shortage "alarmingly low," and pleads for those with blood types O or B to contact the Red Cross. Their guidelines for blood donors ask that they be generally in good health, at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, have not received a tattoo within the last year and not donated blood in the past 56 days.
THE GREATER Chesapeake and Potomac region is one of 36 "blood" regions in the United States. It incorporates all of Maryland except the Eastern Shore, York and Adams counties in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. Their headquarters are in Baltimore.