Bloodmobiles are cruising the roads this month, seeking donors to help replenish the low supply of blood needed for medical centers. Red Cross spokeswoman Collete Guynan says blood banks are far below the supply level they like to maintain. She says right now we’re sitting at what they call a "stable" 3-day supply, though on any given day they prefer to have a five- to 7-day supply of blood on hand.
Guynan says they never know what’s going to happen in the way of trauma, weather, or other disasters. They use blood to treat all kinds of things, from trauma victims with burns or accidents, to treating patients with leukemia and all types of cancer. Blood may be needed for premature babies as well, and mothers who have complications during childbirth. She says the blood is separated to make products that may be used separately for different needs.
Specialized machines "pull" three products from the blood, separating platelets and plasma, from the whole blood. So every time you donate, she says you have the potential to save up to three lives. Guynan says the Red Cross can collect up to 100 units of blood with each road trip by a bloodmobile, though sometimes they get as little as fifteen units.
To put that in perspective, a patient injured in a crash can use up to 80 units of blood in a twenty-four hour period of time. Blood has a "shelf-life" of 42 days, another reason they constantly need donors coming in to give new blood donations. For a list of bloodmobiles or donation sites in your area, call 800-give-life, or surf to "give blood give life-dot-org."