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Blood donations down during summer

POSTED: June 25, 2014 1:05 a.m.

Tony Thompson squeezes a ball while donating blood platelets.

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As temperatures rise, blood donations drop, causing a shortage of blood for hospitals around the area. LifeSouth Community Blood Center in Gainesville is trying to get donations back up.

“We need 870 units a week, on average, in Georgia, to maintain the hospital needs,” said John Andrews, LifeSouth’s Georgia District Community Development Coordinator.

LifeSouth is a blood supplier for Gwinnett Medical Center, Atlanta Medical and Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

“In the summer, more accidents are prone to happen,” said Victor Simental, team supervisor for the McEver Road center. “Hospitals are using blood more often so the need goes up. We never know if someone’s going to use one pint or if they’re going to use 30.”

As the need increases, Michael McDaniel finds donors are harder to come by.

“During fall, winter and spring when schools are in session, everyone’s home,” the regional manager for LifeSouth said. “They make themselves more available to donate. During the summer months folks are going on vacation, therefore the number of people who are in the area available to donate blood goes down.”

While all donations are welcome, some blood types are needed more than others.

“Right now we’re in a critical shortage for specifically O-negative. Only 8 percent of the population has this blood type, and it’s the universal blood donor that hospitals want plenty of,” Andrews said.

The first thing LifeSouth does when donations are slow is take its two “bloodmobiles,” and go around Gainesville recruiting new donors.

“We have to plan ahead because we know the shortage is coming. There’s no way around it. We are the community blood center, so it’s our job go out and get the community educated,” Simental said.

New or occasional donors can be reluctant to donate because they’re not sure of the process, Andrews said.

“As long as you’re feeling healthy and well, your blood test is good and in our acceptable range, there’s nothing wrong with donating,” he said. “I have a heart issue, blood pressure problems and I’m a diabetic. You would think I couldn’t donate, but that’s not true. People need to come and ask because they might be able to donate.”

LifeSouth has 14 local blood drives between now and July 6 — in time to fill the Fourth of July need. The Monday after the holiday is the toughest time for LifeSouth.

“We’re just recruiting harder to get those potential donors who don’t donate on regular basis and ask them to fill that void,” McDaniel said.


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