Published on: May 25, 2006
As Summer Heats Up, Blood Donations Drop Off
The College of American Pathologists Urges Americans to Donate Blood this Summer
Northfield, IL – Memorial Day Weekend is the “unofficial” start of summer, and for many Americans this means fun and relaxation. However, while the temperatures rise, the nation’s blood supply dwindles.
“The need for blood is constant,” said Nicole C. Prall, MD, a pathologist at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, Ind. “As a pathologist, I manage the blood supply at my hospital and know that the summer months are typically challenging for blood donations.”
During the school year, donations from high school and college students account for approximately 15 percent of blood collections. In the summer, these groups become tougher to reach. In addition, many of the donors also give blood during office blood drives, which see smaller turnouts due to summer vacations.
The key to preventing blood bank shortages is for the occasional donor to become a regular one. Donating blood every eight weeks can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people every day.
“The most effective way to avoid blood shortages is encourage routine donations. Studies show that about five percent of healthy Americans eligible to give blood, actually do, and unfortunately many do not give on a regular basis,” said Dr. Prall. “Donors don’t realize that they can give blood every 56 days.”
On any given day an average of 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed by patients in the United States. Blood and its components are needed daily for trauma patients, heart surgeries, and organ transplants, as well as for patients receiving treatment for leukemia and other cancers.
“Donating blood only takes 20 minutes and donations are accepted at several places like the American Red Cross centers, America’s Blood Centers, and hospitals,” said Dr. Prall. “Although our lives are busy, most of us can find a half hour every few months to help out.”
To help the occasional donor become a more frequent donor, the College of American Pathologists encourages Americans to schedule a blood donation e-mail reminder through its free web site, www.MyHealthTestReminder.org. In less than one minute, a person can log onto the site and chose the date they would like to receive a reminder to donate blood. Users may plan an entire year’s worth of blood donation reminders, one every 60 days, if they wish. The site automatically will send a private e-mail reminder on the requested dates. In addition, the site offers reminders to schedule mammograms, Pap tests and colon cancer screening tests.
Online visitors also can use the site to send a personalized e-mail message encouraging friends and family to register to receive blood donation or preventive health reminders. The site is sponsored by the College and does not accept advertising. E-mail addresses are confidential and are used only for this reminder. Information on the site is in both English and Spanish.
The College of American Pathologists is a medical society serving nearly 16,000 physician members and the laboratory community throughout the world. It is the world’s largest association composed exclusively of pathologists and is widely considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance. The College is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective medical care.