BERLIN – According to Miriam A. Markowitz, CEO of AABB, “Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. It is indispensable and required in the treatment of millions of patients, including individuals with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, patients undergoing organ transplants and trauma victims.”
The urgency of that statement is indicative of the overwhelming necessity for blood donations not just across the nation, but also locally at the Blood Bank of Delmarva.
Though the Delmarva area does not typically experience a considerable dip in donations once summer hits, this year the Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) is still facing its most severe decline in donations yet, reflecting a national trend that is growing.
Every year, the summer season hits the nation’s blood banks hard. The schools and universities that host blood drives are out of session. Local school blood drives provide 13-14% of the Blood Bank of Delmarva’s total blood volume for the year.
In addition to the lack of school blood drives, those enjoying a summer vacation are less likely to take the time to donate at their local branch.
Maintaining a high enough level of blood in local hospitals is crucial, especially in the summer when people are more active and the risk of trauma more severe.
In the absence of this large population of donors, the Blood Bank of Delmarva finds most of its summer donors in local businesses and organizations. The BBD and TD Bank are sponsoring the 14th Annual Summer Blood Challenge, which began May 16 and will continue through Sept. 24. Over 200 registered organizations compete for points earned by donors.
Even with the Summer Blood Challenge, BBD Director of Marketing and Community Relations Michael D. Waite says there is barely enough blood being donated to cover local hospitals. Instances of extreme trauma in which a patient might need several units of blood put a significant strain on the Blood Bank of Delmarva’s supply.
“We, more than anything else, need to make sure the shelves in our hospitals are at an adequate supply,” Waite said.
That adequate level of supply is becoming harder and harder to maintain in the face of poor donor turnout – less than 300 donors is the daily total for all five permanent locations and over 30 mobile sites across Delmarva – and increasingly strict FDA regulations.
“If you know of somebody who can, please encourage them. You can never give a more personal gift. It will help save a life,” Waite said.
Though walk-ins are welcome, donors can call 1-888-8BLOOD8 or visit delmarvablood.org to set up an appointment time.