Oh say, can you donate?
Red Cross donations have always been lower in summer than any other time of year, but this summer, the Red Cross might not have enough blood for everyone who needs it.
The Red Cross does normally see a decline in summer blood donation largely because schools are not in session, which means blood drives cannot be held at universities or high schools. These schools, including River Falls High School and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, donate 20% of American Red Cross blood donations for each year.
The decline during summer months is a natural response to schools being closed for the summer, but this summer's decline is greater than normal.
Sue Gonsior, Program and Communications manager for the American Red Cross Mid-America Blood Services Division said May and June donations were the lowest the Red Cross has had in the past 12 years.
"The Red Cross is concerned," said Gonsior, "that the forecast is not robust enough to keep up with the current and projected demand for blood products."
This 12-year donation low isn't just in River Falls; it's the entire American Red Cross. If the Red Cross doesn't get a lot more blood donated soon, said Gonsior, there might not be enough for everyone who needs it, especially with all the natural disasters happening this summer.
The Red Cross is especially appealing to donors with type O-negative blood, known as the universal donor blood, because their blood can be given to anyone. However, Gonsior said donors of all blood types are welcome.
There are several local opportunities to donate blood coming up. The first at the River Falls American Legion is from 1-7 p.m. Thursday, July 28.
There is also a drive at the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ from 1-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2.
People who want to donate but can't make it to those drives can go to one of the Red Cross Blood donation centers in the area, including: Chippewa Valley Blood Donation Center, 3485 E. Hamilton Ave., Eau Claire; and the St. Paul Area Blood Donation Center, 176 Robert St. S., St. Paul. There are also donation centers in Arden Hills, Minneapolis, and Bloomington, Minn.
For more information about donating blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).