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Agencies report blood shortage
Donations dwindle as outdoor activity rises
Angela Hayes makes preparations for a platelet donation from Rhonda Dorsey. - photo by Tom Reed

Donating blood

American Red Cross Northeast Georgia Chapter: 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville. Hours: Noon-7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Contact: 770-297-0929.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers: 1200 McEver Road Extension, Gainesville. Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Contact: 770-538-0500.

Blood collection agencies have declared an emergency blood shortage at a critical time — when outdoor activity rises.

“We need more blood right now to get us through what we call the doldrums,” said Michael Becker, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers’ community development coordinator for Georgia.

“Once we hit mid-August, we should be in good shape, because that’s when we have people coming back from vacation and students, who are very good donors, are going back to school,” he said.

Kristen Stancil, communications program manager for American Red Cross’ Southern Blood Services Region, agreed the supply is “at extremely low levels.”

“In June, donations are down more than 10 percent across the country, so we collected 50,000 fewer pints of blood than we had expected,” she said.

The Red Cross collects as much as 20 percent of its blood from high school and college students.

“Obviously, during the summer, when they are out of school, a lot of them aren’t going to blood drives or blood donation centers,” Stancil said.

Also, with warmer weather starting sooner, people are getting busy with outdoor activities and “not making donating a priority,” she added.

In a press release issued last week, LifeSouth said that flooding from Tropical Storm Debby had left blood supplies at emergency levels.

Also, Becker noted that Aimee Copeland, the Snellville woman who has battled a flesh-eating bacteria, has required more than 110 units of blood.

“One person doesn’t drop the whole system, but you get three, four or five people who have been in accidents and other things that have occurred, and we’re scrambling for sufficient donations,” he said.

LifeSouth “makes commitments to our local hospitals ... to how much blood we’ll have in reserve for them at any given time,” Becker said. “But the shelf life of blood is only 42 days, so it isn’t like we can keep it forever. We always need blood coming in ... and that’s become tougher and tougher.”

Stancil said July Fourth, as a midweek celebration, has disrupted blood drives.

“Many of our sponsors, especially businesses, aren’t holding them ... because a lot of their employees are taking extended vacations,” she said.

There are several criteria for donating blood, but generally donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.

“The need is always there. It doesn’t take a vacation,” Stancil said.

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