In January, a tough time of year for blood collections, we shared a blog, Behind the Critical Need for Blood Products at Stanford Blood Center, offering some insight into what it means for a blood center to be in critical need of certain products. Summer is upon us and is another very difficult time of year for blood centers. You may have noticed increased messaging lately across our various channels, saying were in critical need for certain blood types (O-, O+, and platelets, in particular). We’ve been posting about our recent summer blood need on our social media channels and website, and certain donors have been receiving calls and emails asking them to make an appointment.
How do we determine when we are in critical need? The production team (which includes team members from various departments across the organization) is in constant communication with Transfusion Services at the hospitals to determine which types and products we need, and whether we would like to use critical messaging. If the consensus is to use critical messaging, we have a number of ways to reach out to donors, including calls from Telerecruitment to specifically-designed donor lists; targeted emails to specially-designed donors lists; posts on our social media channels and website; advertisements; and media outreach.
We put serious consideration into the decision of when and how we put out critical messaging. There is a conscious effort to only trigger critical messaging when we determine our supply of blood product will not meet the demand of our local patients. This level of consideration helps us ensure that we are sending the right message at the right time to the right donor.
So why have we decided to use critical messaging recently? Every day we must collect a certain number of specific types of blood products to send to our hospital partners. Sometimes, there is higher-than-normal usage of a particular blood type or product at one (or more) of the hospitals, and we need to be sure we have enough inventory to cover that need. This can present a challenge during the summer. In the summer months, many donors are away on holiday travel, so they aren’t making appointments as they usually would. Additionally, high schools and colleges are out of session, so we don’t have those student drives to support our inventory. Because of this drop in donations, recovering from above-average usage can be more difficult than during other times of the year, which is why we need people to donate regularly throughout the entire summer…the need for blood never takes a vacation!