Technician-in-training Tatyana Villa prepares blood samples for testing at a nearby hospital in this 2019 file photo.
Written by Breanna Hardy
As World Blood Donor Day approaches, the local blood center is looking to keep supplies steady after a winter of frightening shortage.
Ersilia Lacaze, director of marketing and community development at Central California Blood Center, said while the supply is up from winter, the blood center is coming up on short supply months in the summer.
“Certainly back in the winter we reached some pretty critical levels,” she said.
This is partly due to the lack of high school blood drives and community drives.
But the blood supply is currently stable
“As the restrictions from the pandemic begin to lift, it’s been a little bit easier for us to go out and collect blood, but certainly we are not out of the woods just yet,” Lacaze said.
Regardless of the pandemic, the Central California Blood Center normally sees a decrease in donations during the summer. But they plan to collect consistently so the center doesn’t get back into a detrimental level.
“It’s never quite where we would like it to be because quite frankly the need never stops,” she said.
Nationally, the highest user of blood products is one suffering trauma – vehicular accidents or violence.
“Here locally, unfortunately we have seen an increase in trauma in the last three years that has actually given us a bit of a run for our money,” Lacaze said.
The American Red Cross in the Central California Region tests for Covid-19 antibodies in their blood products.
Taylor Poisall, regional communications director at Red Cross, said, “There is always an urgent need for blood donations.”
Like Lacoze, she echoed that the summer months have made it difficult for traveling families to continue giving blood, especially when people are eager to get back to regular activities emerging from the pandemic.
The Red Cross has canceled several blood drives because schools and companies haven’t been open to host blood drives to the same capacity pre-pandemic.
“We definitely need people to donate blood, and right now we have an emergency need for type O blood donors,” Poisall said.
June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, and the Red Cross has partnered with American Cancer Society to promote the importance of keeping blood supply up. Blood products donated to hospitals treat cancer patients in need, people suffering from trauma and people undergoing surgery.
Lacoze said the blood also goes to mothers in the labor and delivery unit or premature babies in need. The shelf life on a blood donation is 42 days, so the need is always there. However, Lacoze said that since the supply and the need are about the same right now, the blood center does not see blood expire right now.
“The blood need never really stops,” Lacoze said. “Our mission and our whole existence is about maintaining a sustainable and healthy blood supply so that our community is never at risk for critical shortages.”