COLUMBUS, Ohio - With the busy July 4 holiday week over, emergency officials are hoping Ohioans have some time to help save lives in their community. The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for eligible blood donors as donations are being sent to hospitals faster than they are coming in.
Rodney Wilson, the communications manager for the American Red Cross in Ohio, says during the summer months people are more involved in activities that could cause traumatic injuries.
"That can include motorcycling, taking long road trips and being in a car accident, boating, even mowing your lawn," he says. "Some of those things could end up causing a traumatic injury that might require you to receive blood and yet fewer people give during that time."
An estimated 550 fewer blood drives were held across the country last week than during an average week, resulting in 15,000 fewer donations than needed.
Wilson notes donations are also down because educational institutions are closed for summer. Blood drives at high schools and colleges account for about 20 percent of all blood donations.
While there is a great need for blood donors now, Wilson says hospitals rely on regular blood donations year-round. He explains blood can't be stockpiled and saved for a rainy day.
"It only has a shelf-life of about 40 days so we have to collect just enough to meet the needs of patients within the next month and not too much that the blood would expire before it can be used," he explains.
He adds the blood that is donated stays in the community, helping to save countless lives.
"About 45 percent of Americans know someone alive because of a blood transfusion," he notes. "Whether we realize it or not it touches so many of us."
Donors must be at least 17 years of age, or 16 years old with parental consent; weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Certain medications or international travel might make a candidate ineligible to donate.