In the summer, blood shortages often occur because individual donations decrease, along with the number of organizations that are able to sponsor blood drives. The absence of high school and college blood drives also contributes to this annual drop in donations because these drives account for approximately 20 percent of all donations.
"Collecting enough blood to meet hospitals’ needs during the summer is always a challenge,” stated Mark Beddingfield, CEO of the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region of the American Red Cross. “This is especially true this year as many donors are also dealing with business closings, lay-offs and other issues relating to our current economy. Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn’t go away.”
Beddingfield added, “Patients are dependent on the Red Cross and volunteer blood donors to make sure blood is available to patients in need. Without an immediate response from generous people in the community, our ability to provide the needed blood will be limited.”
Every two seconds someone in this country needs blood. That need for blood continues to grow each year far faster than the number of individuals who donate blood. Currently only 38% of the population is eligible to donate and only a fraction of those eligible actually do so. In the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region, the Red Cross must collect 600 units of blood each weekday to meet the needs of hospital patients.
There is no substitute for blood, and the only source is from volunteer donors. Eligible blood donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Donors with type O (positive and negative), B negative and A negative blood should consider an automated red cell donation, a process in which only red cells are donated.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit redcrossblood.org.