Blood Bank of Delmarva in need of donors

DOVER — Having a slow down in blood donations in the chill of winter is not unusual for the Blood Bank of Delmarva.

However, as supply levels decrease, officials with the Blood Bank turn up the awareness level and try to remind people how important it is to get out and donate blood for those who need it.

So far this year, winter storms, frigid temperatures and seasonal illnesses are making it harder for the Blood Bank of Delmarva to maintain their critical blood supply for hospitals throughout the Delmarva Peninsula.

Canceled blood drives and reduced donor turnout throughout January have resulted in substantially fewer blood donations than what is needed to meet the needs of patients in the 19 hospitals served by Blood Bank of Delmarva.

“Patients rely on blood donors year-round, and it is especially difficult to maintain a stable blood supply during the winter months,” said Karesa Fleary, director of donor recruitment of the Blood Bank of Delmarva. “Blood reserves have now reached critical lows and we are calling on everyone who can to donate blood and save a life.”

The blood supply typically drops during the winter months, but this year’s decline is worse than expected. Donations are below what is needed to maintain an ideal seven-day supply of blood. Currently, Blood Bank of Delmarva has just a three- or four-day supply with types O- and B- at critically low levels.

Donated blood is perishable, and hospitals must have access to a continuous supply to ensure that all patients can receive the life-saving blood they need when it counts. Platelets — a component of blood that’s especially important for cancer patients — are in particularly high demand because they have a five-day shelf life.

Tony Prado, with the Blood Bank of Delmarva, said that colder winter temperatures tend to keep potential blood donors inside.

“This is perfectly normal,” Mr. Prado said. “In fact, our colleagues at the American Red Cross designated January as National Blood Donor Month not only to thank blood donors for their dedication to saving lives, but to also highlight the fact that blood donations drop in the dead of winter.

“People get sick in winter or they just want to be warm and cozy by the fire; they want to essentially hibernate when it’s zero degrees outside. So, it never hurts to remind folks to give blood in the winter.”

Blood Bank of Delmarva is urging the community to find time to donate blood or platelets to help patients in need. It takes around one hour to donate blood and a single donation can save up to three lives. Those in need include: cancer patients, accident, burn, or trauma victims, newborn babies and their mothers, transplant recipients, surgery patients, chronically transfused patients suffering from sickle cell disease or thalassemia, and many more.

Individuals can give blood at the Dover Donor Center at 221 Saulsbury Road. There are also a number of blood drives in Kent and Sussex counties, including monthly drives at the Lewes Senior Center at 32083 Janice Road in Lewes and the Cheer Community Center at 20520 Sand Hill Road in Georgetown. Interested donors can call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 to find a blood drive or center near them and make an appointment at https://donate.bbd.org.

Mr. Prado said the Delmarva community is one that usually rallies around the Blood Bank when they discover there is a need.

“They actually do rally around the Blood Bank when we issue these types of pleas, particularly when they see it in the newspaper,” he said. “We tend to get busy after issuing an emergency plea due to a mix of lapsed donors who haven’t donated in a while but are reminded to do so through a plea.

“Sometimes, it gets that person who has been thinking about donating blood to finally come in and see us and that’s great because they see how relatively painless and easy it is to give blood. Last, but not least, we have regular donors who give platelets 24 times a year, whole blood donors who give five to six times a year and we have double red cell donors who give two to three times a year. We would be lost without our regular donors.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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