The Community Blood Center climbed out of another blood emergency last month, but that doesn't mean the continual need for donations has waned.
On the average, CBC estimates that it needs about 580 each weekday around the metro area to meet hospital needs, as about one in seven hospital admissions required a blood transfusion in some way and donations have a limited shelf life. Earlier this week, the organization said it needs 775 additional donors through Tuesday to appropriately replenish supplies.
“Unfortunately, if we don't say ‘emergency’ people might think we don't have the need,” said Chelsea Tibbetts, Community Blood Center's director of donor recruitment. “People might think, 'Oh, somebody else will donate.' But what if nobody else does.”
Potential donors tend to be busier with their lives and donate less frequently in the summer months and the holiday weeks, so that alone can cause blood shortages, Tibbetts said. Furthermore, cold and flu illnesses can weaken a pool of donors that is shrinking and aging.
Just 10 years ago, CBC estimated it had about 97,000 donors in the Kansas City metro area. This year, that number has dropped to about 76,000.
“Only about 3 percent of eligible people donate, so we're putting it all on a smaller group,” Tibbetts said. “We need people who are well, and that's what happens in the winter: people who normally donate might get ill.”
Donors can be as young as 16 (with parental permission), and there's no upper age limit, and while many recent medical procedures can prevent someone from donating, a piercing or tattoo doesn't make someone ineligible for long, provided that took place in a sterile, certified setting.
“For some people it can be hard to make a donation if they don't see the connection and don't know a person they could saving,” Tibbetts said. “We're trying to use technology to bridge that gap.”
The Community Blood Center has donation sites around the metro area, including the one in Blue Springs at 1124 S.W. U.S. 40, which is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The Kansas City Donor Center is at 4040 Main St.
Giving blood usually takes an hour or less. Giving platelets and other blood components can take two hours or more.
Those interested in donating can sign up by visiting savealifenow.org or by calling 1-877-468-6844. For questions about donation eligibility, call 1-800-688-0900. Bring your donor card or remember your donor number if possible.