The Red Cross sent out an urgent call requesting more donations at the end of July this year because donations were down 8 percent nationwide, which was about 80,000 fewer donations in 11 weeks than expected.
Lindsay English, spokesperson for the regional chapter, said it affected distribution across the United States.
“We didn’t run into what would technically be a shortage,” she said. “We saw a decline in donations, so we put the word out for people to donate and keep their appointments to donate.”
A decrease in donations happens most often during the summer and the winter holiday season, English said, when people change their regular schedules to take vacations and might not make time to donate blood and plasma. Usually donations level out during the fall.
“We always look for those times of year when we can rely on people to donate blood,” English said. “It’s a little bit easier during this time of year ... People are on more of a regular schedule, kids are back in school.”
The River Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, based out of Louisville, Ky., serves the Bloomington area as well as southern Indiana, central Kentucky and Southeast Illinois.
“We cover a pretty large area,” English said. “To serve the patients that we have in our area we have to collect close to 375 units of blood each day.”
That’s about 125,000 pints of blood per year for the hospitals that depend on the regional Red Cross. The national organization supplies about 40 percent of blood donations across the U.S., English said.
The Red Cross launched an app through Apple and Google Play in September that lets people find local donation drives, schedule appointments and recruit other donors, as well as look at their own donation histories.
“If you are a regular donor, it calculates how many units you’ve donated,” English said. “And it’ll also give you your impact.”
Since one pint of blood is estimated to save three lives, the app keeps track of the number of times a person has donated and estimates how many people have been affected by the donation.
English said the regular donor base, about 20 ?percent of whom are college students, helped the Red Cross get back to its normal supply during the summer.
“We obviously had a lot of people who were very generous and answered our call once we put out that urgent appeal,” she said. “We’re always looking for new and especially younger donors.”