Monday, August 27, 2007

Blood supplies run low


Blood. It’s one of those things that rarely crosses a person’s mind, until they need some.
And with the Labor Day holiday looming, officials at United Blood Services estimate they are going to need 1,500 pints before Friday in order have a full stock.
“That will allow us to have all the different blood products and blood types on the shelf as needed,” said Scott Edward, donor recruitment director for United Blood Services. “That’s our responsibility, to make sure there’s enough blood ready to go.”

Edward said United Blood Services provides blood to 20 hospitals between Thousand Oaks and Salinas, the biggest customer being Cottage Health System and its locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Santa Ynez.
That being the case, Edward said blood donations in the Santa Barbara area have dipped drastically during the latter part of summer -- an occurrence that’s not unusual, but tough on those in the blood business.
“Usually what happens is through the summer months, normal things become harder,” Edward said of maintaining a full inventory.
In order to offset the dip in summertime donations, United Blood Services initiated a 4,000 pint challenge on Aug. 13, which ends this Friday. So far, Edward said 2,465 donations have been collected, leaving the need for 1,500 more pints, which Edward said will require roughly 1,500 people.
But with only six appointments scheduled yesterday at the local United Blood Services branch at 902 Laguna St., things are still looking slow.
“It’s been pretty darn quiet in here,” said MaryAnne Bittle, community relations representative for the Laguna Street location. “It’s been quiet again today. We’re just hoping that we don’t have any terrible tragedies over the weekend.”
In order to meet local demand for blood, Bittle said an average of 25 to 30 donors need to come through the door each day.
Bittle and Edward said the predictable drop in donations during the summer months correlates with people being on vacation and other events, such as preparing to go back to school.
But Bittle hopes a blood drive held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at the Camino Real Marketplace at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road in Goleta will help bolster the number of donations.
Those who donate blood will receive a gift certificate for a 24-ounce smoothie from Blenders In The Grass.
Edward said they try to take everything into consideration when pinning down a goal for donations, from the cost of gas over a holiday weekend, to the weather.
He said the combination of lower than usual gas prices and sunny weather over the Labor Day weekend doesn’t directly translate into more accidents, but it does mean more people are recreating and driving.
Edward said the average blood usage on a summer day on the Central Coast is 260 pints, with lows around 50 pints and highs near 600 pints.
The holiday increase, combined with the usual daily need, can be daunting.
“Specifically in Santa barbara, we seem to be struggling the most right now,” Edward said. “We’re hoping we can get things centered there.”
Appointments can be made to give blood at one of United Blood Service’s six Central Coast locations by calling 965-7037, or visiting their web site at Walk-ins are also welcome.
“Once it’s gone it’s gone,” Bittle said. “We rely completely on volunteer blood donors to make sure that supply is there for the community.”

No comments: