The blood bank is offering some sweet treats to anyone willing to strap down and squeeze out a pint.
United Blood Services is currently offering 4-ounce boxes of See’s Candy chocolates to participants from now until Feb. 16, urging community members to donate blood after last week’s storms left the blood banks at critically low levels. The agency needs 270 pints of blood to satisfy its daily needs, and supply now has fallen below a sustainable level. Without a sufficient blood supply, particularly types O and A, the organization cannot effectively deal with emergency situations.
United Blood Services representative Janna Nichols said blood can only be stored temporarily, thus there is a constant need for donors. The blood given, Nichols said, directly affects the hospital’s ability to save lives.
“There is no substitute for human blood,” Nichols said. “We can’t manufacture it, we can’t store it for exceptionally long periods of time. We need to have regular donors to maintain the supply, and it’s something that saves lives.”
Nichols said if levels get any worse, the agency could potentially ask hospitals to delay planned nonemergency surgeries in order to conserve blood for a potential crisis. If that step is not effective, Nichols said they might have to petition the help of another community in order to secure more pints.
Additionally, Nichols said the common fear of needles is a very trivial apprehension when contrasted with the potential loss of life.
“People always say that they are afraid of needles and that needles hurt, but it’s a bit like a bee sting, only it’s much less, and it doesn’t last as long,” Nichols said. “I think if you really try to remember that pain, it’s pretty hard to remember, but it’s pretty easy to remember the pain of someone that you lost in your life.”
United Blood Services spokeswoman Mary Anne Bittle said blood does not have a very long shelf life, and they need to have it on hand before an emergency arises.
Nichols also said blood shortages are somewhat cyclical, with the low points usually falling around the holidays and the summer months. She said the reason for this low supply cycle is that many of the donors the bank relies on are students, who are often out of school during these periods. Though the blood bank is in a critical need for supply at the moment, Nichols said she would encourage regular donations instead of just a response to the emergency.
“We are critically short now, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need blood on an ongoing basis, so I’d ask people to give now, and I’d ask them to give regularly,” Nichols said.
More information about local blood drives and information on how to set up an appointment is available on the United Blood Services website, www.bloodhero.com.