Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red Cross: Blood Donations Thinning

Regional blood supplies are dipping as summer sets in, causing local blood banks to start offering incentives to potential donors.

Red Cross spokeswoman Marianne Spampinato says the regional chapter of her organization depends heavily on blood drives at colleges and high schools. She says while the national Red Cross gets 17% of its supply from those drives, the Pittsburgh region gets 25% of its supply from educational institution drives.

With those drives nonexistent in the summer, the Red Cross has started giving “ice cream incentives” to attract more donors, says Spampinato. Companies like Dairy Queen and Rita’s Italian Ice are giving donors coupons for free desserts to boost the blood supply.

Spampinato says while the Red Cross usually enjoys an emergency reserve of several days’ worth of blood, the current supply would last about one day.

The Red Cross spokeswoman says if blood supplies were to reach an extreme low, hospitals would probably postpone elective surgeries to maintain supplies for the people who need blood the most -- that is, patients with blood cancers, premature babies, and mothers who just gave birth.

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