The final days before the New Year will be a critical time for Shepeard because donations decrease during the winter months. Regular donors sometimes skip giving when they resume work after the holidays, and the cold and flu season prevents people who might want to give blood from passing a required health screening.
Shepeard encourages the public to keep giving during the next few weeks to prevent a blood shortage and help provide blood for cancer treatments, surgery patients and burn victims. In January, hospitals are typically busy with elective surgeries and chemotherapy treatments that people elect not to do around the holidays, said Pam Rascon, its community resources director.
At Shepeard’s Augusta, Aiken and Evans centers and its mobile blood units, 187 people donated blood Friday, 70 donors more than an average day, Rascon said. Donations at mobile units were slower than normal, however.
“It’ll give us a good start into the first couple weeks of January,” she said. “We will start the New Year in a more comfortable position.”
Shepeard, which supplies blood to 21 hospitals in Augusta and surrounding counties, hosted several large blood drives in early December, but the days around Christmas and New Year’s Day are difficult times to schedule drives at workplaces, Rascon said. The mobile blood unit is visiting Regal Cinemas in Augusta and Aiken this week, offering a free movie ticket to donors.
Rascon hopes that more people will take advantage of the mobile units, a convenient way to donate. Only eight people donated at the blood mobile parked at Regal in Augusta on Friday. Blood centers in Aiken and Evans saw more activity periodically throughout the day.
The blood mobile returns to the movie theaters Saturday through Tuesday, hoping to collect more donations. The free movie ticket promotion won’t be offered in January.
“We are going to be in for a tough January with the cold and flu season coming in,” Rascon said. “If you are feeling healthy and well, give that gift to someone else.”
The blood center especially needs donations of B-negative, A-negative and O-negative blood types. In mid-December, there was an urgent need for O-negative, a blood type that can be accepted by all people, but people responded to the need, Rascon said.
Shepeard tries to keep a three-day supply of blood stocked on its shelves, Rascon said. A burn victim can use three to four days worth of blood donations, she said.
Donating blood takes about one hour including a health screening, drawing blood and eating a snack afterwards, Rascon said. Donors should be sure to hydrate and eat well before giving blood.