UPPER VALLEY—The Red Cross is out for blood, and it could be yours.
This summer has proven to be another shortage in the Red Cross’ blood bank. Natividad Lewis, a spokeswoman for the organization, said a dip in summer donations is becoming a dangerous trend.
“There’s been a decline of new donors during the summer for the past four years, with 80,000 less donors each year,” she said.
Lewis said the blame for the lack of donations is in part due to last week’s holiday. People traveling are less likely to give blood.
“Many organizations don’t hold blood drives during the week of the Fourth of July,” she said. “AAA reported 46.9 million Americans were expected to take trips to destinations more than 50 miles from home during the Independence Day Week. They’re less likely to donate if they’re traveling away from home.”
Another cause of lack of donations is due to the school year being over. Lewis said high schools and college campuses are normally used to hold blood drives, but with students being out for the summer, those activities won’t resume until the fall.
The Upper Valley area is a part of the Lewis and Clark Blood Service Region, which covers Idaho, Montana, Utah, and parts of Nevada. Blood donations that are collected within the service region typically stay there to be used in treating accident victims, cancer patients, and other needs.
“Patients need blood in emergency situations, but there are also those who take it for treatments, like cancer or sickle cell anemia,” Lewis said. “I always say donating blood either helps save a life or alleviates pain. For example, sickle cell anemia patients need up to 100 blood transfusions per year.”
Lewis said donating blood is critical to helping fellow Americans stay alive, and added that most people don’t realize how much blood is needed on a daily basis.
“Someone needs blood every two seconds in the United States,” she said. “Many people don’t think about the need until it hits close to home. If you’re familiar with the Red Cross we’re all about being prepared. The blood needed in an emergency is there before the emergency.”
Unlike some other medical procedures, blood is not something that can be made in a lab or taken from an animal for human use.
“Blood isn’t synthetic. It has to be donated,” Lewis said. “If you’re not eligible to donate blood, you can volunteer to help out at or hold a blood drive. We even have a virtual blood drive option where you can hold a virtual blood drive online and encourage people to donate blood.”
Lewis said there are a lot of ways to answer the call to donate, but one tops them all.
“The best way people can help out is by rolling up your sleeve and donating,” she said.
The Red Cross has many blood drive opportunities in the area, including one on August 16 at the Rexburg North Stake Center. Visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS for more information.