Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Summer is just around the corner, and many of us are making plans for vacation travel and holiday outings.
Unfortunately, summer is also a time when blood donations decline – even as our community’s need for blood increases.
History tells us blood donations will begin to drop around Memorial Day, with the need for blood becoming urgent by the Fourth of July holiday.
The problem is twofold. In addition to heightened demand for blood, summer activities and vacations conflict with blood donation appointments for many regular donors.
The need for blood, as anyone who has had a surgical procedure knows, extends well beyond accident victims. Patients with many serious medical conditions, including cancer and sickle cell disease, require blood.
Georgetown Hospital System utilizes more than 5,000 blood products a year for emergency services and patients in our operating rooms, as well as for inpatient and outpatient services.
To increase our blood supply and to keep costs down, we have a partnership with the American Red Cross.
The program has been a great success, and we have achieved or exceeded our annual goal for several years now.
When we first started, we were collecting about 250 units of blood across our organization.
Since then, we have expanded our collections to more than 1,400 units each year. However, we still have more to do. A gap exists between the amount of blood that we collect and what our community needs, and our goal is to close to that gap.
Community blood drives play a crucial role in our donation efforts. Perhaps you’ve given blood at your local church, at a school or at your place of work. Maybe you’ve come to a blood drive at HealthPoint or at Georgetown Memorial Hospital or Waccamaw Community Hospital.
This year, Georgetown Hospital System has scheduled 21 blood drives, averaging about two per month.
Our next one is May 23 at HealthPoint, and we hope you will stop by to give blood between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Consider this: According to the Red Cross, one person every two seconds needs blood, for which there is no substitute.
Only 5 percent of the eligible population gives blood, and by giving one unit of blood, you can help up to three people.
Moreover, donating blood is safe, quick and easy. You cannot contract an infectious disease by donating blood.
If you’re reading this and you’re looking for a way to give back to our community, and if you’re healthy, over age 17 and weight at least 110 pounds, give blood at one of our blood drives.
Better yet, become a regular donor. By giving blood through the Red Cross, you can give patients in need hope and a chance to create memories that will last a lifetime.
For more information about blood drive dates, visit georgetownhospitalsystem.org or redcrossblood.org.
Debbie Hockensmith is director of the Georgetown Memorial Hospital lab.