While most of us are enjoying our summer vacations at some point over the next few months, the folks at the Red Cross and other donation centers are working overtime trying to meet the summer demand for blood and platelets. Earlier this month, the American Red Cross issued an urgent call for donations as the need for blood and platelet donations are exceeding the demand by close to 30,000 donations per month.
The summer months are usually difficult for organizations that supply hospitals and other healthcare organizations with life-saving supplies of blood, and this year is no different. Typically, blood drives are held by the church, community, and corporate sponsors through voluntary activity programs. In the summer, the number of blood drive events decrease due to the number of volunteers who are taking time off around the July 4th holiday and vacationing throughout the warm weather months. Unfortunately, the need for blood donations doesn’t adhere to any seasonal schedules and in fact, the demand for supply increases during the summer months. The Red Cross has estimated that over this year’s July 4th holiday, there were nearly 700 fewer blood drives held than an average week, which would equate to the Red Cross shutting down for an entire day.
What can we, as healthcare professionals, due to help alleviate the summer blood and platelet shortage? Most of us already donate blood fairly regularly when our hospital or clinic runs the periodic blood drive. Since that is probably not going to occur during the summer months, one of the easiest things to do is not wait for the next blood drive and make an appointment at your local Red Cross or another donation clinic. Make it a family affair by convincing your 16 and older children to join you. Introducing your young adult or another family member to blood donation may spark in them an interest in hosting a blood drive at their school or workplace. We can never know when an action is going to trigger an important response within someone and blood donation is something that most of us can do! Why donate blood?
- You are saving lives without putting yourself in harm's way.
- You already have blood to spare, and someone desperately needs it.
- You are contributing to your community and ensuring that needed blood is there in an emergency.
- You get delicious juice and cookies when you are finished.
What are the requirements to donate blood? Generally, blood donors should be at least 17-years of age (16-years old in some cases), and in good health, while weighing at least 110 pounds. Other requirements of donation come up in the initial interview process, including health history and hemoglobin levels.
Hopefully, this reminder has reminded you of the critical nature of our nation’s blood and platelet supply during the summer months. If possible, look into organizing a community blood drive and get your neighbors involved. Taking time out to make a critical, life-saving donation will not put a damper into your summer plans, so consider making your appointment today.
Please let us know if you are a regular blood donor and if you plan to donate within the next month. Share your thoughts in the comment section below or join us on our Facebook page.