Slump in Summer Blood Donations Causes “critically Low” Blood Inventory

WASHINGTON — Every summer, there’s a drop in blood donations, but the need for lifesaving blood never drops off, said Regina Bratton with the American Red Cross.

“It’s just particularly bad this summer. It’s a critical situation this summer,” Bratton said.

Donations drop off during the summer because people go on vacation or go out of town. Blood donations drop off during the winter holidays because it’s just not on the top of people’s minds, Bratton said.

She said that while they are in need of all blood types, people with Type O and Type O-negative “are the universal blood donors,” making their blood crucial in the emergency room.

Bratton said those blood types are what doctors grab first in the ER, especially when they don’t have time to test someone’s blood type.

Every few seconds in this country someone is in need of blood or a blood product, Bratton said. It’s needed to save the lives of trauma victims, and it’s needed for lifesaving cancer treatments.

But blood is also perishable.

“It doesn’t have a long shelf life,” she said.

Bratton said it takes about two hours to donate blood, but the benefits are far-reaching.

“Those two hours you’re donating a pint of blood which could potentially save three people’s lives, and that’s significant,” Bratton said.

Bratton said the Red Cross supplies 40 percent of blood and blood products to hospitals and medical centers around the country, the largest number of blood and blood products.

“But we are in constant need of donors, new donors rolling up their sleeves and partnering with us to help save lives,” she said

Anyone over the age of 17, in good health and that weighs at least 110 pounds can donate blood. A valid photo ID that shows the date of birth is required. Parental consent is required if a donor is 16-years-old.

For more information on becoming a donor, visit the American Red Cross website.

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