To Your Health: Summer Blood Shortages
The American Red Cross reports that although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent of that eligible population actually donate each year. Donations at high school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of the supply during the school year, but during the summer months, these donors are not as accessible. When vacations disrupt other regular donors’ schedules, we are faced with a summer blood shortage.
Despite many medical advances, doctors and researchers have not created a substitute for blood. It is not something that can be manufactured. It can only be supplied by donors. And, this supply must constantly be replenished not only because of how often it is used, but also because of how quickly it expires.
The American Red Cross, which provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, estimates that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. This rate doesn’t decrease during the lazy days of summer. In fact, because a single car accident victim can require 100 pints of donated blood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports July and August have more car crashes than any other months, the need for blood donors intensifies.
When there is a blood shortage, elective surgeries, such a knee replacements, may be canceled, transfusions can be deferred, and emergency patients may be re-routed to hospitals with better supplies, costing life-saving minutes.
Blood donation typically takes less than an hour and is a simple four step process: registration, mini-physical, donation and refreshments. Consider making it a part of your summer plans.