COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The American Red Cross says they usually expect to see a drop in donations in the summertime, but they didn't expect to receive the lowest number of donations in more than 15 years this June.
"We know that it's going to be a challenge to get more folks into the door, but this summer in particular has been very challenging," said Jamie Muldrow of the Red Cross' South Carolina Region.
In June of 1997 the Red Cross collected 448,978 units of blood. In June of this year they collected nearly 40,000 fewer units of blood with a total of 410,004 units.
Muldrow says in all, blood donations are down 20 percent locally and 10 percent nationally and because of that there is currently an emergency request for donors. She says they take into account that school's out and folks are on vacation in the summer, but they don't know what else may be contributing to the drop.
"That's the million dollar question," said Muldrow. "For two years in a row now, we've seen a decrease in donations, and we just encourage folks to give."
Donors like Lynn Siddle of Richland County have stepped up to the call. She attended a blood drive at Palmetto Health's Parkridge facility this week. "I saw it online, and I get an e-mail from the Red Cross because I do try to donate on a regular basis," said Siddle.
Siddle says it's not uncommon for her to see fewer donors at summer blood drives, but she believes there may be another factor that plays a role. "I know a lot of people who say they won't give because they're afraid of the needle," said Siddle. "I just look away and don't think about it."
She says focusing on those on the receiving end of donations helps ease any fears."It just makes me feel good," she added. "I'd say give it a try, it doesn't hurt, it's easy to do, they make it easy- just give it a try!"
The Red Cross is hoping you'll follow her advice. "It's not just here in South Carolina, it's across the country that we have an emergency need," said Muldrow. "So in times like this, we can't rely as easily on some of those other areas, and it's imperative that we're doing our part to be self sufficient here in South Carolina."