Blood banks serving the Inland Empire are struggling to meet demand during summer — when students are out of school and people go on vacation instead of rolling up their sleeves to donate.
Blood banks are hit with a summer shortage almost every year, said Dina Colunga, a spokesperson for LifeStream Blood Bank, the Inland Empire-based blood bank.
LifeStream is not the only one struggling with a shortage. The American Red Cross is also seeing the issue.
About 25% of LifeStream’s inventory comes from high school blood drives, Colunga said, “so when school is out of session during June, July and the first part of August, our supply takes a substantial hit.”
Adults and children with cancer often receive platelet transfusions. About 50% of a hospital’s platelet supply is used by cancer patients, a LifeStream news release states.
LifeStream is seeking type O, type O double blood and type O double red cell donors, Colunga said.
As of Thursday, Aug. 10, LifeStream has a two-day blood supply. Before the summer donation slowdown, the blood bank had a five-day supply.
LifeStream, which runs centers in San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario, Victorville, Murrieta, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage and Hemet, is urging eligible donors to help out.
Is there a solution to get donors to blood banks?
LifeStream focuses on educating the public about the importance of regularly donating blood.
“If everyone who is eligible to donate blood would donate at least three times a year, we could avoid this situation,” Colunga said.
It also helps that blood banks such as LifeStream offer gift cards or giveaway entries for concert tickets.
For example, through Sunday, Aug. 20, anyone who donates blood with LifeStream will be entered for a chance to win two floor-seat tickets for Beyonce’s concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday, Sept. 1.
Appointments can be scheduled through the LifeStream website.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross, a non-profit national organization that provides shelter, food and hosts blood drives, has seen a nationwide decrease of about 25,000 blood donations during the first two summer months, a news release said.
The Red Cross is asking for type O negative, type O positive, type B negative, type A negative blood donors and platelet donors, the release states.
Every donor through the end of August will receive a $10 gift card, the release states.
To donate, an appointment must be made through the Red Cross website, via the American Red Cross Blood Donor app or by calling 1-800-733-2767.
Officials with the San Diego-based Southern California Blood Bank, which serves southwest Riverside County, could not be reached to discuss its blood supply.
Summer is not the only time blood banks see fewer donations. In fact, another rough patch could be months away.
“The winter holidays are also a tough time for blood collection for similar reasons,” Colunga said. “Every year, summer and winter holidays are our toughest times.”