As summer revs into high gear, blood collection centers in Illinois are sounding the alarm that they need more donors to make up for supply shortfalls.
“I think people feel that someone else is going to do it,” said Amy Smith, Area Vice President for Versiti Blood Center of Illinois.
Smith says that Versiti is down 40% in donations, while the need for blood is up nearly 10% over historical averages. Hospital usage is up 20% with more elective surgeries scheduled, a by-product of patients postponing surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We also have a lot of people who postponed surgeries as they went through COVID-19, so now they’re coming out and they’re sicker, so they’re taking more blood,” Smith said.
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Versiti Blood Center of Illinois is following CDC guidelines, so if you’re fully vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask while you donate. Versiti is asking that you wait three days after your vaccine shot to donate blood.
The American Red Cross doesn’t have a waiting period after vaccination and is also in urgent need of donors.
“It is estimated that 38% of the population can give, but only 3% do. And we really need more people to heed that call and come out and donate,” said Joy Squier, Communications Director for the Illinois Region of the American Red Cross.
All blood types are needed, but those with Type-O blood are most needed.
“O-negative is what they reach for in an accident, when they don't know what your blood type is. It's called the universal donor,” Squier said.
From screening to donating, the entire process lasts under an hour.
Nancy Nolan from Downers Grove makes giving blood a priority, donating several times a year.
“It is so easy and everybody is so nice. You just have to sit there,” Nolan said, explaining it’s a simple process.
“One in seven people going into the hospital will need a blood transfusion, so it’s really important we are stocked and ready to go,” Smith said.