July 24, 2014 | by Denise Heady
Donating blood and platelets saves lives. We all know this. Yet every summer, potential blood donors become distracted by vacations and schedule changes. As a result, blood donations fall dramatically across the nation, leaving hospitals frantically trying to bring in much-needed blood for their patients.
Earlier this week, the American Red Cross sent out an urgent appeal for blood, reporting that donations are down about 8 percent over the past 11 weeks. "The shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks," the organization said on its website.
Hospitals with trauma and emergency departments aren't the only institutions that need blood. City of Hope patients need more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year. In comparison, City of Hope’s Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center brings in about 22,300 units of blood and platelets each year, not nearly enough to meet the hospital’s needs.
Kasie Uyeno, manager of blood donor recruitment at City of Hope, told NBC in a recent interview that, like other institutions, City of Hope suffers from a lack of blood donations every summer.
“Across the board, the summer and winter months are the most difficult,” Uyeno said.
While many people take summer breaks from work and school, many also take a break from their routine donation appointments.
“It’s imperative that we have a strong supply,” Uyeno told the Los Angeles Daily News in a recent interview. “If we’re down to a one-day or two-day supply, that’s a scary time. Anything less than a three-day supply is in the red. We’re walking that fine line.”
Earlier this month, City of Hope experienced that “scary time” when the blood supply dipped to a two-day amount.
When the blood supply drops, City of Hope must purchase blood from outside sources.
“The community needs to understand that it’s important to donate prior to the crisis,” Uyeno told NBC. “We like to have as much ready as possible. It’s hard to get donors to donate when there’s no crisis in front of them.”