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Blood supply

RMC Medical Lab Technician Tabitha Felder gets a blood sample from regular donor James Bozard of Orangeburg in August 2018.

The summer months are typically slow for blood donations and this July is no different at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg.

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"Yes, we do typically see a shortage during the summer months," RMC Blood Assurance Lab Technician Tabitha Felder said. "Mostly due to schools being out and those taking vacations."

Felder said all blood types are typically low this time of year due to the decrease in blood drives.

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"We have had to order blood products to maintain our inventory," Felder said. "We currently have about 150 units in inventory."

"We would like that number to be closer to 200," she said. "We are continuing to call and draw donors in hopes to increase that number."

Felder wouldn't describe the shortage as "critical" but says "there will always be a need for blood."

"The blood that we collect here is only good for 35 days, and donors can only give every 56 days," Felder said.

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Blood experts estimate that every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. A single donation can potentially provide three individuals with blood.

However, less than 38% of the population is eligible to donate due to a variety of reasons:

  • Having a cold, flu, fever or sore throat.
  • Being on antibiotics.
  • Having had a tattoo or piercing in the last year.
  • Having visited a malarial risk area in the last year.
  • Having a history of seizures of heart disease.
  • Not feeling well.

RMC's Blood Assurance Program has proven to be quite successful since its inception 49 years ago.

Last year, the program received 2,182 units of blood. RMC’s Blood Donor Center collected 1,254 units, while the RMC Bloodmobile received 928 units.

RMC is one of only two independent, community-based blood-donor programs in the state. All of the blood collected at RMC’s Blood Donor Center and Bloodmobile stays in the community.

Donors can donate at the Regional Medical Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments are appreciated and walk-ins welcomed.

To set up an appointment, to ask about hosting a blood drive, or for more information, 803-395-2419 (toll free in S.C. 800-476-3377, ext. 2419).

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The American Red Cross is also facing what it describes as a 'blood emergency' and is calling for all blood types and platelet donors to step up to the plate.

The ARC states it has less than a three-day supply of most blood types following a decline in blood donations over the July 4 holiday week.

About 450 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups during the holiday week, which is lower than during a typical week.

This led to about 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients.

The Red Cross says it has less than a two-day supply of type O blood. At least a five-day supply is desired.

“Medical emergencies and critical treatments don’t stop for holiday celebrations," said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. "Patients depend on lifesaving blood transfusions every day."

In order to help curtail the shortage, the ARC has added additional appointments at blood donation centers and community blood drives over the next few weeks.

In an effort to increase donations, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to encourage donors – especially new donors and those who have not donated in the past years – to give blood or platelets during the challenging summer months.

Despite an encouraging response to the campaign, blood donations still fell short of expectations in June, resulting in more than 24,000 fewer donations than needed about 600 fewer here in the South Carolina Blood Services Region, and causing a significant draw down of the Red Cross blood supply.

“Blood is only available when generous blood and platelet donors roll up a sleeve to give, and right now, all donors – especially those give have never given or haven’t given in a while – are urged to make an appointment to give today,” Numark added.

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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