Need for blood grows across the region

Published 3:41 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022

Lunenburg County needs more blood donors. The same goes for Nottoway, Charlotte and every other county in this region. It’s not due to any sudden emergency. People simply don’t give as much during the summer and supplies drop as a result.

“We often see blood donations drop during the summer,” said Christy Carneal with the Virginia Red Cross. “With donors having vacations or other types of schedule changes, a blood donation can be one of those things that gets ‘lost in the shuffle’ on the calendar.”

In addition to just forgetting, some would-be donors are absent. Blood drives at universities like Longwood or colleges like Hampden-Sydney bring in about 10% of the supply collected by the Red Cross in Virginia. Those drives don’t happen during the summer months, Carneal pointed out, because in most cases, the students are gone.

But while the donors have disappeared, the need hasn’t. Carneal said an estimated 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the country. At Lunenburg Medical Center, red blood is to treat people with chronic illnesses and in the emergency room. For example, a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. And that can only come from donors.

BLOOD DOESN’T LAST

And if you’re asking why supplies can’t be stored from earlier drives, the answer is simple: the blood won’t last that long. Red blood cells have to be used within 42 days of a donation. Platelets don’t even last that long. They have to be used within five days. Based on the need, that part isn’t a problem. In many cases, both here and across the state, Carneal said the donations are used within days.

All blood types are needed, but two are in very short supply. Type O Negative red blood cells and Type AB blood plasma are the most needed. Only 7% of people across the country are Type O Negative, but they can be given to patients of any blood type, putting them in demand. The same goes for AB plasma, but it’s even more rare. Only 4% of people across the U.S. have Type AB blood.

You can call 1-800- 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.