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Ask the Doc

August, 2011 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: Why are blood supplies low in the summer months?

Summer is always a challenging time to keep shelves stocked at the nation’s blood centers, including at Memorial Blood Centers. Although demand varies only a little, there are a variety of challenges to supporting the supply.

The need for blood is relatively constant. Premature babies are born year-round, open-heart surgeries occur regardless of the weather, and accidents happen 24/7, whether from icy roads in winter or boating or motorcycle accidents in summer. In fact, Memorial Blood Centers provides about 2,700 units of blood every week to our 30+ hospital partners—including Ashland’s Memorial Medical Center.

Our blood supply during the summer months is most influenced by donors’ availability to donate. With our cold and snowy winters, when the weather turns warm and school is out, we all tend to head outdoors to enjoy family gatherings, baseball games, or a favorite camping spot up north. While many blood donors are away and unable to maintain regular donations, car accidents and cancer don’t take a holiday.

In addition, about half the blood Memorial Blood Centers collects comes from blood donors visiting one of our 11 donor centers, like those in Superior and Duluth. The other half is collected at blood drives hosted by local schools, churches, businesses, and other civic groups.

Summer drives at schools are not possible, of course. And many businesses must accommodate for employee summer vacations as well. Therefore, one important way you can help is by organizing a summer blood drive at your work or church.

Memorial Blood Centers is always prepared for emergencies or shortages. But, blood doesn’t last forever. Donated red blood cells, for example, can be stored for just 42 days. Platelets have a shelf-life of only 5 days. And just as a grocery store cannot overstock its supply of lettuce or other perishables, we can’t overstock blood donations. That’s why Memorial Blood Centers always has a need for donors and donations.

Fortunately local Ashland businesses and organizations loyally partner with Memorial Blood Centers to make it easy for everyone in the community to make a blood donation. So please make an appointment today to donate at one of the following drives in the next few weeks:

Tuesday, September 6
Northern State Bank
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Contact Northern State Bank at 715-682-2772 or sign up at MBC.org, using Sponsor Code 2181

Wednesday, September 7
Ashland County Courthouse
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Contact Bonnie at 715-682-7019

Contact the sponsoring organization directly to schedule your donation appointment. Or, making an appointment online also is easy and convenient. Visit MBC.org, click the Schedule Now button, and enter the Sponsor Code listed above for the drive where you would like to donate. You also can search by zip code for another community blood drive near you or make an appointment at one of our Northland donor centers, including at Essentia Health in Superior or Burning Tree Plaza in Duluth.

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers. Send us your questions at askthedoc@MBC.org. Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives.