Even as blood donations dry up during summer months, Grovetown resident Donna Morrow finds the time to give a bit of herself to the community she lives in.
It certainly helps that she has seen firsthand how her blood makes a difference, she said. When a family friend gave birth to a son with a heart defect, Morrow, who had a compatible blood type, decided to donate.
“They were able to use my blood in his surgery the next day,” she said. “From that time on, I just kind of got into it. It makes me feel good knowing that I have something that could help somebody else.”
Morrow and her husband, Ric, visited the Shepeard Community Blood Center in Evans on Tuesday with the hopes of putting a dent in the area’s blood demand. Kevin Belanger, the president and CEO of Shepeard Community Blood Center, said the couple might have their work cut out for them. June, July and August are among the worst months in terms of blood donations, because families spend time vacationing during those months.
“Our goal is to educate people to let them know that there’s always a need for blood,” he said. “That doesn’t take a vacation. Unfortunately, we see that we’re struggling to get folks in here.”
During those three months last year, Shepeard Community Blood Center delivered more than 8,200 units of red blood cells to the 21 area hospitals. In that same span, the center had to import an additional 1,238 units to meet demand. The center also received 936 units of platelets and imported another 65. This year, the center could fare even worse. Through June, Belanger said, the center delivered more than 2,700 red blood cell units, but had to import an additional 523 units.
“If it holds true, we’re already going to be worse off this year than we were last year,” he said.
Sheila Tinsley, the operations manager for the Georgia Regents Medical Center blood bank, said there is still hope. The medical center recently joined with Shepeard to consolidate their efforts. The two organizations will use five blood mobiles in addition to Georgia Regents Medical Center’s on-site donation center to solicit donations during the year’s most critical months, she said.
“Ultimately, what you need to center on is that there is somebody out there that needs your help,” she said. “It’s not something that you can go to the store and buy. The only way they can get it is by somebody else’s generosity.”
Type -negative blood is among the most sought-after type, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Krystal Overmyer said it accepts any type.
“Each day, the South Carolina blood region needs approximately 500 donors to donate blood and platelets to meet hospital demand,” Tinsley said. “With schools out and families on vacation, it’s even more important that those who are eligible come … give the gift of life.”
Red blood cell donations take roughly 10 minutes, and platelet donations can take up to an hour. After about 24 hours of testing, the blood is ready to distribute and can last anywhere from five to 42 days.