As summer begins, Blood Bank of Delmarva needs donations
bshea@ cecilwhig. com
— The summertime is the season for fun in the sun, cookouts and vacations, but also a decrease in blood donations.
The Blood Bank of Delmarva experiences a lower amount of people who donate blood in the summer for a couple of reasons, said Michael Waite, director of marketing and community relations for the Blood Bank.
He said people are busier, take vacations and do not think about donating. The second reason is because schools and colleges are not in session, he said.
“Approximately 12 to 13 percent of our total blood volume for the year comes from high school and college drives,” Waite said in an email. “With schools being out of session for the summer, we are challenged to replace those donors which is one of the reasons we conduct our Summer Blood Challenge. We need to replace those student donors during the summer months.”
Waite said in an email that the blood bank has seen a 10 percent decrease in donations in the past few summers. That combined with an almost 13 percent reduction in donations this year, Jan 1. to July 5, compared to the
same time last year, further highlights the need to donate, he said.
He said this is a “personal gift” that someone can give to another because their donation can help up to three lives. Many medical procedures require blood transfusions, and many patients are in need of blood including those with cancer, trauma and burn victims and women who have given birth, among others.
But about 65 percent of the nationwide population is unable to donate, 35 percent is able to donate and about 5 percent of that 35 percent actually donate blood, Waite said. It takes 350 donations a day to keep the blood supply adequate, he added, noting that the Delmarva blood bank serves 18 hospitals located in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
Waite said O negative is the most in demand blood type by hospitals because it’s the universal type and can be used in situations when doctors do not know someone’s blood type in a medical emergency. He said one in 15 people are O negative, making it rare.
Donors can schedule an appointment online or by phone. The entire process takes about an hour with reception, reviewing material, a mini- physical, and questions to assess eligibility to donate. The ac- tual donation takes 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how fast a person bleeds, Waite said. After the donation, donors go to the canteen area for 15 minutes to eat cookies and hydrate before leaving.
Local residents stopped in Elkton gave a variety of reasons for why they haven’t given blood as often in recent years.
Elkton resident Charlotte Ledaum said she gave blood two years ago before moving to the area from Delaware. Although, Ledaum hasn’t donated blood in the past two years, she used to give annually.
”I just haven’t gotten around to it,” she said.
Ledaum said knowing she is helping others through donating blood makes her feel “really great.” She said she likes knowing her donations are going toward those who need it.
” It makes me feel really great that I can help somebody,” she said.
Ledaum said she would donate blood in the future if she knew of places where she could donate.
Meanwhile, Newark, Del., resident Jaime Mentons said she has given blood about four times in the past, but has stopped due to having small veins. She said donating was a dif ficult process and if it wasn’t such a problem, she would donate again.
Although, she does not give blood anymore, Mentons does encourage others to donate and shares the importance of blood banks.
” It’s a wonderful feeling,” Mentons said.
Blood donors can go to one of five permanent centers located in Newark, Del.; Wilmington, Del.; Dover, Del.; Salisbury and Chadds Ford, Pa. For those who would like to donate in Cecil County, a blood drive is scheduled at the Singerly Fire Hall in Elkton from 1 to 6 p. m. Tuesday, July 12.
Paula Ennis, recreation supervisor in the Newark, Del., parks and recreation department, gets her blood drawn during the city’s blood drive as part of the Blood Bank of Delmarva’s summer blood challenge in 2014.