Southeast Region Remains at Import Status in Blood Banks

By TAYLOR DRESSLER

Younger Donors Most Common Donors

With recent events such as the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the plant explosion in West Texas, it has become more evident what our hospitals go through during times of crisis. Georgia is part of the Southeast region on the American Red Cross blood bank map, and this region remains at an “Import” status. This means that we do not collect enough blood from donations within our region to support our hospitals’ patient needs. We must rely on other regions and have blood imported in.

“We have to rely on other regions to support our hospitals needs, so that is why we are always encouraging people to donate blood as often as possible when they are eligible,” said Kristen Stancil, communications program manager of the Southern Blood Services Region for the American Red Cross. “That way we would be able to supply the blood ourselves rather than importing it from other regions and we can fulfill our own hospitals’ needs.”

The Cobb Donation Center allows donors to make appointments during business hours to increase flexibility of donating blood. Photo by Taylor Dressler

The Cobb Donation Center allows donors to make appointments during business hours to increase the flexibility of donating blood.

If a crisis were to occur, hospitals within the region would not have enough blood to sustain the problem and we would have to turn to other regions for support. The demand for blood donations has increased, as awareness arises about this shortage.

People are encouraged to donate as often as possible. It only takes one pint of blood, which is the average amount taken during a donation, to save three lives.  Volunteers are eligible to donate every 56 days and the average blood donation process takes about an hour.

Type O Donors in Urgent Demand

Type O-negative blood is often referred to as the universal blood, because it is the blood type that can be transfused into a patient with any blood type. The Red Cross urges people with type O-negative blood to donate as often as possible.

Having a strong supply of type O-negative blood in blood banks allows for transfusion into any patient in a time of crisis. It is most commonly used when the patient needs a transfusion before his or her blood type can be determined; it is also used for newborn babies. Because of its universal characteristics, type O-negative blood is one of the most valuable blood types to have in blood banks if a crisis occurs.

It has become an apparent trend during the summer months that numerous blood banks see a decline in supply compared to the winter months. Hospitals see some of the higher blood demand during the summer months so resolving this shortage is crucial.

Blood donations tend to decrease because schools are out of session, families are traveling and volunteers have less time to make it to donation centers.

“There are various factors that contribute to the summer shortage. A shortage is definitely something that could possibly happen as summer approaches,” said Stancil.

Extreme warm weather can also cause blood drives to be canceled. Donors are encouraged to keep donating through the year, and more so in the summer months to help eliminate this seasonal shortage.

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