Summer sees blood donor drought

Published 10:10 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

American Red Cross technician Kelsey Ferguson takes a blood donation from Cynthia Bunch at the Suffolk Health and Human Services Building on Monday afternoon. The Mayor’s Cup blood drive continues today at the North Suffolk Library.

American Red Cross technician Kelsey Ferguson takes a blood donation from Cynthia Bunch at the Suffolk Health and Human Services Building on Monday afternoon. The Mayor’s Cup blood drive continues today at the North Suffolk Library.

Cities in the Hampton Roads area are competing to see which locality can raise the most blood donations at the Mayor’s Cup blood drives this week.

The events are kicking off the summer season for the American Red Cross blood services, which historically sees fewer donations during the summer than what local patients need.

“The need for blood never takes a day off and never gets a holiday,” said Kristen Hatfield of the American Red Cross. “Nineteen percent of our donor base is made up of high school and college students. They’re great donors, but when they take the summer off we definitely feel their loss.”

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Other regular donors taking vacations also affects the blood supply, Hatfield said. However, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, no matter the season.

On Monday, the Red Cross collected about 15 units of blood from donors who visited the Suffolk Health and Human Services Building as part of the Mayor’s Cup blood drive. The drive will continue Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. Mayor Linda T. Johnson will provide opening remarks at 10 a.m.

To encourage more blood donations, the Red Cross also is launching the Summer of Stories campaign to share the personal impact blood and platelet donors can have on a patient in need. The organization hopes to draw in at least two donors more than what is expected at every blood drive this summer in order to ensure an adequate supply.

“Stories are the glue that bind many of us together,” said Page Gambill, chief executive officer of the Mid-Atlantic Blood Services Region. “Whether you’ve needed blood, have given blood or simply want to share a fun summer memory, we want to hear from you.”

Hatfield said the top use of blood donations in Hampton Roads is ongoing blood therapies for patients with sickle cell anemia, leukemia and other forms of cancer. However, other patients who may need blood products include burn patients, premature babies, traumatic injury victims and those undergoing surgical procedures.

In general, people who are at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and are healthy on the date of donation are eligible to donate. Many chronic health conditions and common medications do not automatically exclude a donor from donating. For more information on eligibility, visit www.redcrossblood.org.

In addition to Tuesday’s blood drive at the North Suffolk library, several others are planned near Suffolk in the coming month:

  • Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 22.
  • Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd., 2 to 7 p.m. June 28.
  • Chesapeake Square Mall, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 29.

Visit www.redcrossblood.org/summer to make an appointment to give blood, share your story or read others’ stories about a time they needed blood or gave blood.