Blood supplies in Mississippi have fallen to critically low levels, and as MPB's Evelina Burnett reports, Mississippi blood service officials are issuing an emergency appeal for donors.
Summer is typically a hard time to get blood donors to roll up their sleeves. Folks are distracted with summer plans, or out of town.
“And also a lot of people don’t realize that high school and college students make up more than 20 percent of blood donations during the school year - but when they're out of school, they're not donating, so that's part of the reason why our donations typically decline over the summer months," says Kristen Stancil with the American Red Cross, which has issued an emergency request for all eligible blood and platelet donors of all blood types.
It’s a crunch being felt around the country and throughout Mississippi. United Blood Services provides blood to more than 70 hospitals in Mississippi. They’ve also seen an unusual decline in blood donations this summer, starting as early as April. Mitzi Breaux with United Blood Services says there may be several factors for this.
“The Zika virus travel restriction is one of those things. We are asking people who have traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America to wait 28 days after returning to the States before they donate," she says. "So that's one thing that's taken a toll on donations this summer.
Breaux says they're asking potential donors traveling to Zika-affected countries to donate before they leave.
Mississippi Blood Services says it too is experiencing a critical shortage, with less than a one day supply of most blood and platelet types. Merle Eldridge is with Mississippi Blood Services. She says it’s always hard to get blood donors in during the summer. But this year has been even more of a struggle.
"Most of our blood types, especially O-positive, O-negative and B-positive, as well as our platelets, are less than a one day supply right now," she says. "So in the event of an emergency, the blood may not be there when the hospitals need it, so we are at a critical level right now with our inventory."