Where to donate
LifeSouth Community Blood Centers
When: 1-5 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: 1200 McEver Road Extension, Gainesville
Contact: 770-538-0500; www.lifesouth.org
American Red Cross
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Where: Chapter House, 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville
Contact: 770-532-8453; www.negaredcross.org
While most people are too busy with vacation plans to donate blood during the summer, that's just the time when contributions are needed most.
"There's never a day when we couldn't use more donations, but summer is always a difficult time," said Sondra Wallace-Foster, assistant regional manager of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers. "More people are out on the roads and enjoying the lake, so there are more accidents and an increased need for blood, but holidays and the summer are the toughest collection period."
According to Wallace-Foster, only about 40 percent of the American population is eligible to give blood, and out of that group only about 5 to 8 percent actually donate blood. In order to be eligible to give blood, donors should be at least 17 years old - or 16 with written, parental consent - and weigh at least 110 pounds. Potential donors must wait at least one year after getting a tattoo, to be able to give blood.
"It's a constant struggle to get the message out about the need for blood donations," Wallace-Foster said.
To help encourage more donors to contribute during the summer, the center has started a drawing for a gas grill. Donors will be entered into the drawing every time a contribution is made during the remainder of July.
While donors can give blood every eight weeks, Wallace-Foster said most people only donate about once a year.
The shortage that LifeSouth is experiencing isn't from a lack of trying. The center at 1200 McEver Road Extension in Gainesville is open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving. And Gainesville office staff take blood mobiles out on the same schedule.
"The need for blood never stops, so we can't afford to take a vacation from collecting," Wallace-Foster said.
Each pint of blood that is collected is separated into three different components - red blood cells, plasma and platelets - so one donor has the ability to impact three lives.
Although all blood is needed, LifeSouth has an urgent need for Type O, and the American Red Cross has a critical need for Type O-negative and Type B-negative.
According to LifeSouth staff, the average donation takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
One of the unique features of LifeSouth is that their "first priority is supplying Georgia hospitals," Wallace-Foster said. The center also has the ability to perform apheresis donations in which blood is separated into platelets, plasma and red blood cells while the donor is giving blood.
"This allows a donor to give a higher concentration of a single component - the other components are pumped right back into the donor's body," Wallace-Foster said. Aphereresis donors can make a contribution every two weeks.