Preventing a Summer Blood Shortage

June 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

By Harpreet Sandhu, Administrator, Stanford Blood Center

Jim Early is an extraordinarily dedicated blood donor. One of our “frequent flyers,” he has logged over 300 donations with Stanford Blood Center. He even keeps the Blood Center in mind when he plans his summer travel, because travel to malarial risk zones (such as India, parts of Mexico, and parts of Costa Rica) can lead to a one-year deferral from donating blood.

Unfortunately, the Blood Center loses many valuable donors in the summer, and not just because of travel deferrals. College students and professors leave town, and high schools are out of session. During the school year, high school mobile drives play a significant role in keeping inventory up. In fact, approximately 20 percent of our blood products come from students. Of those, an estimated 90-95 percent are high school students participating in our mobile drives.

In past summers, these dwindling donations—coming precisely when automobile accidents and elective surgeries are pushing up demand—led to critical shortages.

This summer, we are particularly concerned about shortages. In recent months, we have noticed an uptick in demand by community hospitals for Rh-negative blood. The hospitals we serve need a lot of blood products, particularly for preemies, cancer treatments and complicated transplants. A liver transplant, for example, sometimes requires 40 or more units of blood.

We sincerely appreciate the dedication of all our donors. Some donate every time they are eligible—about every two months for whole blood donors, and as frequently as every two weeks for platelet donors. The reality remains, however, that just a small portion of our community keeps our community hospitals supplied. An estimated 39 percent of the population nationwide is eligible to donate, but only about five percent in the Bay Area give regularly. Therefore, we urge anyone able to donate to consider helping out this summer. Please note that while recently the need for Rh-negative blood has been particularly strong, we need donors of all blood types.

Please call (650) 723-7831 or visit our website to schedule an appointment or request information. Be sure to check out the different summer promotions and events we’re offering by clicking here. Thank you and give blood for life!