American Red Cross faces shortage of blood donations during summer months

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Leaders with the American Red Cross say they're facing a shortage of blood donations, which is typical for this time of year.

Statistics from the non-profit show every two seconds someone in the U-S needs blood or platelets.

From June through August workers say they see a shortage in blood donations as opposed to other times of the year.

"Just simply because they're on vacation, they're traveling, they're not on their normal routine, but our patients still need the blood," said Candy Oliver, Business Development Manager with the ARC. "During the school year we collect a lot from our high schools and colleges. When they're out we really need churches and communities to step up."

Oliver said they try to hold as many blood drives as possible during the summer months to spread the word and get people to lend an arm.

"In South Carolina we've seen about 560 fewer donations than we typically do, which is significant," she added. "We try to collect 500 units a day, so that's a whole day right there."

"[It doesn't surprise me], having donated for so many years I know they have a hard time getting people in the summers because of vacations and people traveling," said Kevin Willey, of Johns Island.

Willey tries to donate blood as often as he can.

"We're doing the right thing here," he said. "Donating blood helps a lot of people, not only sick people, but people in vehicle accidents. If you're able to, and you're eligible, you should definitely come in and donate."

Employees with the Red Cross also understand the shortage.

"South Carolina is an import state, so we already have to import blood from other states," Oliver said. "So during a critical time like this, it's even more critical because we've already been depending on other states and they're probably going through the same thing."

One worker has used the social media app Snapchat to try and get donors by using the app's filters in an upbeat way.

William Reed, of James Island, is a familiar face for workers with the Red Cross. Donations have a personal tie to him.

"I lost a dear friend due to cancer," he said. "So I try to make it a special project to go out and give platelets for him."

Blood donations take roughly 30-45 minutes, while the platelet process can take up to two hours.

People are able to donate blood (whole blood) every 56 days, platelets every seven days (up to 24 times a year), plasma every 28 days (up to 13 times a year), and power red every 112 days (up to 3 times a year).

For a list of donation centers and blood drives around the Lowcountry, click here.

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