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Red Cross asks for blood donations over the summer

During the summer, regular routines often fall to the wayside, and with them, blood donation rates.

The Red Cross wants to remind everyone to keep donating blood over the summer.

They supply nearly 40% of all blood and blood products in the nation.

If it's not used within a few months, blood expires, so the Red Cross needs to work on a timely and consistent basis.

That means timely and consistent donations, which don’t always happen, especially during the summer months.

Mary Jane Thompson is the Interim Executive Director of the North Central branch of the Red Cross.

“When we don't have students holding scheduled blood drives, and people go on vacations during the summer and aren't in their routine schedule, we see a, sometimes, a dramatic decrease in blood donors,” said Thompson.

She says that high school and college aged donors make up 20 to 25% of the blood supply.

“Red Cross has to be creative and exhaust all of our resources to get the messaging out to bring donors in, over those summer months, and you'll see organizations that aren't schools stepping up to host blood drives during those difficult times of the year to collect,” said Thompson.

Blood is needed for surgeries, emergency situations, cancer treatments, sickle cell patient transfusions, and more.

“Those blood cells, those red cells have to be there and on the shelf, so it can affect families and those patients if the blood is not there, or if there's a fear that there won't be enough blood where hospitals have to reach out and try to get it in,” said Thompson.

WXPRreported in January that blood levels had fallen to critically low levels.

Platelets are a type of blood product used to replenish fluids and treat reactions from chemotherapy or radiation in cancer patients.

They expire after only 5 days, so the Red Cross has to constantly replenish their supply.

“It's just a really amazing thing to do to give blood because it touches not only the recipient, but those family members who are able to share more time with the person who we were impactful in helping save a life,” she said.

Thompson says she’s worked with countless families who have told her how important blood donations were personally to their loved ones’ health.

“They can help to save a life. They can give people more time with family members who are struggling,” she said.

To make an appointment to donate blood, download the Red Cross’ app.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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