Summer a tough time for blood donations

By: W. Curt Vincent - Editor

WILMINGTON — On the heels of an extremely busy Fourth of July holiday book-ended by weekends that gave travelers a chance to hit the highways and byways, the American Red Cross is saying blood supplies for many hospitals across the nation are facing shortages.

While some degree of that is because of higher blood need during one of the busiest travel times of the year, the biggest reason is that donors aren’t as readily available.

“It’s a challenging time for donations, with hundreds fewer blood drives than in a typical week,” said Maya Franklin, external communications manager with the American Red Cross. “So many people are on the roads and spending time on vacation.”

Although representatives with the blood bank at Scotland Memorial Hospital say they don’t currently have a shortage issue, Franklin said “blood is being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in” for the 75 hospitals the American Red Cross serves in the Blood Services Carolinas Region.

The numbers aren’t good for the months leading up to the holiday, either.

In North Carolina, according to Franklin, about 4,200 fewer units of blood were collected during May and June in North Carolina and about 56,000 fewer donations were received during that time nationwide.

“Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on.”

The need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first to be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

Currently, only one community blood drive is scheduled for Scotland County this summer — on Tuesday, July 17, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Scotland Memorial Hospital, located at 500 Lauchwood Drive in Laurinburg.

But additional blood drives can be scheduled.

To schedule an appointment to donate or to set up a blood drive, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-733-2767.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]

W. Curt Vincent

Editor