Winter wears down national blood supply

 

Giving Blood

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 13 – Supply and Demand: A donor gives blood at the VT Sports Club Blood Drive in response to the shortage across the nation. Photo: Kat Schneider

by Kat Schneider–

Though there is almost always a national shortage of donated blood, the winter season sees a dramatic decrease in donation levels.

“It depends on the time of year,” said Daniece Rodrigue, a Collection Specialist with the Red Cross for 12 years. “Recently, it’s been weather and flu season and holidays. People are traveling, and the need rises.”

According to the Community Blood Bank, in America and Canada, more than 4.5 million patients need blood transfusions annually. The number of donations, however, drops significantly during the cold winter season between weather cancellations and cold and flu season.

“A lot of people who are regular donators have a harder time to get out; things get canceled because there’s snow, sleet or rain,” said Jenna Sanders, a senior Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise major at Tech. Sanders, a regular donor, has previously canceled appointments to donate because of these conditions.

The American Red Cross reports that it supplies 40 percent of the blood donated in America. Of that, 80 percent is collected at mobile blood drives set up around the communities in places such as schools and places of worship. When weather causes cancellations of those mobile blood drives, the national donation supply takes a hit. Over 500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled nationally this year alone, costing the donation service over 16,000 units of blood.

The weather is not the only factor that causes a decrease in blood donations during this time of year. Rodrigue explains that potential donors are unable to donate blood when they are sick or are taking certain over-the-counter medications following their sickness. They are also encouraged not to come in if they are feeling unwell, even if it is just a common cold.

Those considering donations during this season can check the American Red Cross website or the Virginia Blood Services website for eligibility requirements set by the FDA.

Weather and health permitting, Sanders encourages everyone in the Virginia Tech community to consider donation: “Our school’s about service, and this is a really great way to serve others and even to save a life.”

 

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Collection Specialist Daniece Rodrigue

 

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Senior Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise major Jenna Sanders