Every two seconds, someone somewhere in the United States needs blood.
That’s according to a July 9 American Red Cross press release — an emergency statement calling for an increase in blood donations from any eligible individuals in the country. The problem is nationwide, but effects continue to be felt in Eugene.
The Lane Blood Center, a regional donation center in Eugene, ran as low as one day’s supply of each blood type during the week of July 15, said Annette Casper, the regional director at the facility. The center is normally stocked at a stable five- to six-day supply.
“It could cost somebody's life. That's what people don't realize,” Casper said. “If you have, for instance, a shooting, a massive earthquake — anything — we wouldn't have the blood on the shelves.”
Casper said people from the baby boomer generation are the most recurring and dedicated donors. “The boomer generation — and even before — grew up with this notion that it was their civic duty to give blood,” she said. “A lot of our donors are of that older generation.”
But that generation isn’t participating as often anymore due to blood thinners, medical complications and age.
Students from high schools and universities are a major target for blood donations, Casper said. The dense population in campuses and the youths’ determination to help the community make them excellent volunteers.
Casper said that in the summer, it is common for a decline in donations to occur. Students go on vacation, and people have other things to do or just forget altogether. However, she said the need for blood doesn’t go away for those in need of surgery or who are victims of tragic events.
The fear of blood or needles that comes with donating may also deter younger people from actively participating. But Stina Strickland, a local who has donated 23 times at Lane Blood Center, said she has had nothing but a positive experience.
“Anyone that I've ever dealt with when it comes to donating blood, either with the American Red Cross or with Lane Blood Center, has always been super great and super kind,” Strickland said. “They know how important what they're doing is and how much this is needed.”
Bloodworks NorthWest, the parent company of Lane Blood Center, recently implemented a new app to simplify the donation process for the community, and the American Red Cross released a similar blood donor app as well. Both apps can be used to find the nearest mobile donation trucks, schedule appointments and track donations.
The overall process takes about 10 to 15 minutes and includes refreshments before and after the procedure. Up to three lives are saved from every donation.
Casper urged the community to come through in this moment of crisis.
“Blood is the one product you can't manufacture,” Casper said. “In order for it to be used within a hospital, it has to be donated. It's the only product in the world that we rely on the kindness of others. Without that, it just has devastating effects.”