Summer is a difficult time of the year for American Red Cross blood banks, said Shaun Adamec, marketing communications manager for the Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Blood Services Region.
"Colleges, universities and high schools are out of session," said Adamec, adding that blood banks around the country depend on those institutions for a high amount of blood donations. "While the supply goes down over the summer, the need [for blood] continues."
Adamec said the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia regions need 1,300 units of blood a day to meet the demand. But, this summer, he said, blood donation centers are at their lowest, only able supply less than half-a-day's worth of blood.
In normal circumstances, blood centers are able to supply seven days worth of blood.
THE SHORTAGE is attributed to summer activities, such as schools being out of session, people going out of town on vacations, and getting more into the summer mode where they aren't thinking about donating blood, said Adamec.
"Our national headquarters is on a national appeal right now because of the blood shortage across the country," he said.
Adamec added that this shortage will affect the amount of blood delivered across the country. Under normal circumstances if a region needed a certain amount and type of blood, it could be obtained from another blood center in the U.S. With the shortage, the supply is not enough to go around.
"In times like these, we have to rely on donors in our community to take care of the patients in our community," Adamec said.
CURRENTLY, the lowest and most sought after blood type is O-negative, said Adamec. He explained that because it is universal among all recipients, hospitals tend to need a high demand of it when dealing with trauma victims.
On average, 25 blood drives a day take place in the area and the 12 donor centers, most of which have extended their hours this summer to make it more convenient for donors to come in.
The general requirements to donate blood are, donors have to be at least 110 pounds, in good health, have no piercings or tattoos within the last year and meet certain travel restriction criteria.
More specific information is asked at the time of donation.
To find out more about giving blood call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit www.my-redcross.org.