For many people busy with summer activities or who are concerned about their health as the coronavirus pandemic continues, donating blood is among the furthest things from their minds.
That’s partly why blood banks serving the Inland Empire are facing a summer blood shortage crisis, with some saying their supply inventory is critically low.
Officials at the American Red Cross said blood donations typically decline in late spring and early summer — especially during holiday weeks around Memorial Day and Independence Day – but the need for blood transfusions doesn’t take a summer break.
Officials at LifeStream Blood Bank, which has donor centers across Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said the bank had a little over 24 hours of total supply on hand Thursday, July 21. The blood bank provides products and services to more than 80 hospitals throughout Southern California.
To fulfill patients’ needs, LifeStream must collect at least 500 donations a day.
“Our blood supply has been depleted so considerably that we are now faced with hours of supply, not days,” Dr. Rick Alexlrod, LifeStream’s president and medical director, said in a Tuesday, July 19, news release.
“This crisis affects not only LifeStream, but patients at our local hospitals,” Axelrod said. “We need the help of our community members. We need anyone who is able to donate to protect friends, family and fellow residents who require blood product for lifesaving treatments.”
The Southern California Blood Bank, a division of the San Diego Blood Bank which serves southwest Riverside County, is at a two-day supply or less for most blood types, spokesperson Claudine Van Gonka said.
“For context, we like to have a seven-day supply on hand,” Van Gonka said. “Every year, blood centers across the country experience a dip in donations during summer months — schools are not hosting their regular blood drives because they are on summer break, people are traveling on vacation, and blood donation is just not top of mind for most people at this time. We anticipate this dip and make extra efforts to recruit donors during these times.”
The American Red Cross’ Southern California Region is also encouraging eligible donors to make appointments “to avoid a summer blood shortage,” spokesperson Dana Simmons said.
In June, the nonprofit organization collected approximately 12% fewer blood donations nationwide — “one of the largest blood donation shortfalls in a single month in recent years,” according to Simmons. And in Southern California, 13% fewer donations than expected were made.
“Without an increase in the number of people coming to give, the inventory will continue to decline toward urgent levels,” Simmons said. “People can help prevent a shortage by scheduling to give.”
The American Red Cross, LifeStream and the Southern California Blood Bank said the onset of the coronavirus pandemic saw historically low turnout for blood donations. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of variants has also impacted their supply.
All blood types are needed, with type O the most in-demand kind and “often the first to be depleted from hospital shelves,” Simmons said. Every two seconds, a patient in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion and every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets, according to the American Red Cross. Blood and platelet donations are needed for heart surgeries, organ transplants, those receiving treatment for cancer, sickle cell disease and more.
Blood bank officials say are all doing what they can to attract more eligible donors of different blood types by hosting mobile drives and collection events across the region. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome, officials said.
TO DONATE BLOOD
American Red Cross
For daily blood drive locations and appointments, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit RedCrossBlood.org or use the Red Cross Blood Donor app.
LifeStream Blood Bank
LifeStream community blood drives give donors a LifeStream beach towel and a free mini-physical that includes readings for blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol levels, iron level and temperature.
Appointments: 800-879-4484, LStream.org or visit the donor center, 420 E. Hospitality Lane, Suite A7, San Bernardino
- Monday, July 25 — San Jacinto Moose Lodge, 188 W. Main St., 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 26 — Harbour-Record VFW Post 2266, 1891 S. Santa Fe Ave., 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 26 — Redlands Community Hospital, 350 Terracina Blvd., 12 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 26 through Friday, July 29 — Loma Linda University Medical Center – Children’s Hospital, 11234 Anderson St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Thursday, July 28 — Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Offices, 11370 Anderson St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 26 — Chino Hills Civic Center, 14000 City Center Drive, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 27 — Riverside County Administration Center, 4080 Lemon St., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Friday, July 29 — Orange Terrace Park, 20010 Orange Terrace Pkwy., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Saturday, July 30 — Advance Auto Parts, 10861 Magnolia Ave., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, July 30 — Cactus Cantina, 151 E. Alessandro Blvd., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Thursday, July 28 — Yucaipa Valley Center, 33674 Yucaipa Blvd., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Friday, July 29 — Real Estate Masters Group, 770 E. Sixth St., Suite A, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Saturday, July 30 — Starbucks, 1420 Beaumont Ave., 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Saturday, July 30 — Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1123 S. Lincoln Ave., 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, July 31 — Crossroads Christian Church, 2331 Kellogg Ave., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Saturday, July 30 — Farmer Boys, 18288 Collier Ave., 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.