The down economy affected area blood banks in surprising ways during 2011.
Mobile blood drives accounted for less overall donations to the blood supply, a shift Shepeard Community Blood Center attributes to layoffs.
In 2011, mobile blood drives at workplaces, churches, stores and other spots represented 53 percent of total collections. That’s down from 62 percent in 2009, said Linda Petersen, the marketing manager for Shepeard. Donations at area blood centers total the remainder.
“With the economy as it is, it’s a little bit harder for people to donate at work,” Petersen said.
Cuts to the workforce mean fewer people in workplaces to donate during blood drives. The remaining workers might have a more difficult time getting away from their desks to donate, she said.
The good news, Petersen said, is that people continue to donate steadily, increasingly at area centers instead of mobile drives. The blood supply has maintained fair levels without falling into a critical shortage.
Each year, the blood center makes a big push to replenish supplies in January, which is also National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. Donations typically slow down during the holiday season because people have busier schedules, Petersen said. Four drives were held in the Augusta area Saturday.
“We need about 200 people to donate blood every day,” she said. “That’s seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The American Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region, which includes the Augusta area, experiences a similar decline in January. The winter months bring an increase in colds, flus and seasonal allergies among donors, said Jamie Muldrow, the communications manager.
Muldrow said area blood banks supplied by the American Red Cross have low supplies of B-negative and O-negative blood types.
Donors should not wait for emergency situations to give blood, Petersen said. As of this week, blood types in greatest need by Shepeard Community Blood Centers are B-positive, O-negative, A-negative and B-negative.
“There’s somebody’s tragedy happening all the time,” she said. “There is always somebody somewhere that needs blood.”