Published : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | 6:24 AM
While most people are thinking of the end of summer and back to school season, it is still the height of blood drive donation season. Donors are needed now more than any other time of the year.
Huntington Hospital said there is never an end to the need for blood donors, echoing the words of the American Red Cross and other groups that are trying to increase supplies of blood on hand.
Summertime is the time of year when there is a critical shortage of blood. There are many reasons for this, said Eileen Neuwirth, executive director of communications for Huntington Hospital.
Regular donors going on vacation combined with an increase in summer activity that may result in accidents accounts for the increased need for donors, she said.
“Ironically, as donations decrease, the need increases,” she said. “We see more accidents and traumas during the summer months because people are out riding motorcycles, hiking, traveling on the highways. As the region’s only trauma center, blood donations are vital to helping those most in need.”
Neuwirth said the regular donor base needs to be continually supplemented with new donors because of summer vacation. She said there is only a small fraction of the population who qualify to give blood to start off with, so when the resource pool drops off it makes it challenging in trauma centers.
“Much of the medical care we provide depends on a steady supply of voluntary blood donations, and yet only 3 percent of the eligible donors in California give blood,” she said. “We are fortunate to have a base of loyal blood donors throughout the year at our donor center from both hospital employees and community members and our tireless blood donor center employees make possible multiple blood drives out in the community with our mobile blood vans.”
It’s not just summertime when there is a shortage, Neuwirth said. It’s any holiday time because the likelihood of accidents increases when people are on a holiday break. There is a continual effort by Huntington Hospital to put on blood drives.
“We also try to host more blood drives out in the community when supply is short,” she said. “If we encounter a blood shortage, our hospital has to purchase blood through the Red Cross. By donating to our center, and encouraging your friends and families to do the same, you are helping people right here in the community.”
Neuwirth said there are certain blood levels that need to be maintained at Huntington Hospital.
“By definition, we have a blood shortage anytime we cannot supply orders for blood that are needed for our patients,” she said. “Blood has a limited shelf life and the hospital uses more than 17,000 blood products annually. Every unit counts — including yours.”
There is a need for all blood types but type “O” blood is important to the supply.
“‘O Negative’ blood cells are called ‘universal,’ meaning they can be transfused to almost any patient in need, which is particularly helpful for those who need blood in emergency situations,” Neuwirth said. “However we welcome all blood types from eligible donors.”
Neuwirth said donating blood is not something to be taken lightly as the contribution of blood from each qualified donor is vitally important.
“By donating blood at our blood donor center, you can save as many as two lives with your single donation,” she said.
To prepare to donate blood, the hospital outlined some steps to take.
1. Eat a nutritious meal and don’t skip meals.
2. Drink water start drinking water the day before and continue after your donation.
3. Bring a photo ID which includes your date of birth. The hospital needs to establish a permanent identification number for you, such as your driver license number or passport.
4. Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow. Maintain a healthy level of iron in your diet before donating – If possible include iron enriched foods in your diet, especially in the weeks before your donation.
For more information or to make an appointment, call the Blood Donor Center (626) 397-5422 or visit the Huntington Hospital website www.huntingtonhospital.org/
The Huntington Hospital Blood Donor Center is located at 711 S. Fairmont Avenue in Pasadena. It is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Fridays.