Every 2 seconds in the United States, someone is in need of blood. And in the summertime, it’s often in short supply. With vacations and holidays keeping people busy, blood and platelet donations have declined nationally, the American Red Cross said. That has prompted the organization to issue an emergency call for more donors. Nationally, there are about 39,000 fewer blood donations than what is needed now, according to the Red Cross.
“Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which is why we are making this emergency request,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director for Red Cross Blood Services.
As part of the effort, eight blood drives took place in the Triangle on Wednesday, including one in downtown Raleigh in the Archdale Building on the legislative mall.
“Most folks don’t think about it until you’re in the hospital and you’re the one needing it,” said Barry Porter, regional chapter executive for the Red Cross, who was at the blood drive.
The demand for blood remains constant in the summer months, but the availability of donors decreases. The Red Cross tries to maintain a reserve of two or three day’s blood supply. But given the short shelf life of donations – a little over a month – a steady stream of donations is required year round.
“It’s expected to be routine, that blood is going to be there,” Porter said Wednesday as he stood alongside a woman giving blood. “But this young lady is taking her time to donate today. If she didn’t do it, there’s no other way blood will get there.”
The Carolinas region of the Red Cross supplies the majority of blood units to 49 hospitals across Eastern North Carolina.
“When WakeMed doesn’t have blood, when UNC doesn’t have blood, or Duke, or Vidant in Greenville, they’re looking to the Red Cross to say what are you doing to get the supply up?” Porter said.
In an emergency, blood is needed immediately, and hospitals don’t have the time to get more blood from donors, test it and prepare units for transfusion. From the time of donation to when the blood reaches a hospital takes at least a day and sometimes longer.
“It’s the blood donations on the shelves that help save lives when an emergency occurs,” Gehrig said.
For information about donating, you can download the “Blood Donor” app for your smartphone, which allows you to find local blood drives and donation centers, receive information about donating and schedule an appointment to donate. You can also call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org/
“If you’ve thought about giving blood and helping to save lives, now is the time to do it,” Gehrig said.
GIVING AT REX
The Rex Donor Center, at 2709 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 150, is open:
▪ Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.
▪ Tuesday, Friday: 7:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
▪ Saturday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Also, REX operates two mobile blood donation vehicles that visit employers, community groups, etc. There’s a scheduled of upcoming blood drives here: www.rexhealth.com/rh/patients-visitors/blood/blood-mobile-schedule/