UIHC sees blood donations drop as students go home for the summer


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While the summer months might bring food, fun, and family, they don’t bring blood donations.

“Summertime is more challenging for donors,” said Kirby Winn, the director of public relations for Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. “That’s true within our region but also nationally.”

Winn said procedures that require blood, such as surgery or childbirth, happen consistently throughout the year, so while donations might dip, the demand doesn’t.

Amanda Hess, the director of donor relations for the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, said that so far this year, donations have decreased by 10 to 15 percent compared with other times of the year.

Kerry DuBay, the donor recruitment coordinator of the DeGowin Blood Center at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said it, too, experience seasonal trends with blood donations.

“The number of donations often declines over the summer, and the number of units transfused often increases,” she said.

The decrease in blood donations can also be seen nationally. According to the American Red Cross, seasonal shortages of blood donations occur all over the country.

Blood drives that are typically held at high schools and colleges are also a popular way to raise donations, Winn said. During the summer months, the number of donations from those populations also decreases.

“Even at a place like University of Iowa, where there are students in the summer, there aren’t as many as during the school year,” he said.

The Mississippi Blood Center and the DeGowin Center have a close relationship, especially during the summer-break months at the university, Winn said.

“The DeGowin Blood Center does a great job, but they’re really dependent on the University of Iowa population,” he said. “The amount of blood our center gives to the DeGowin Blood Center increases anytime the donor base around the University of Iowa decreases. When school is on break, the demand for our supplemental inventory goes up.”

DuBay said all blood types are needed, but some are in higher demand because of compatibility issues. O-negative blood is universal blood type that can be received by anyone. However, individuals with O-negative blood may only receive that blood type.

“The UI DeGowin Blood Center is always looking for blood donors,” DuBay said. “Especially O-negative or O-positive donors or platelet donors of all blood types.”

Because of the decrease in donations, blood centers often try to compensate by offering special incentives to those that do donate.

The Mississippi Blood Center is offering Starbucks gift cards and a raffle for a new car to all new donors, and DeGowin offers a T-shirt to all donors.

“Patients receive blood transfusions to replace blood lost in surgery or accidents, to help treat cancer, and for many other reasons that occur at the same rate all year-round,” she said. “That’s why we need to make sure we maintain an adequate blood supply all summer long.”

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