By Christian Dischler
This year we’re all ready to sprint out of our homes into the embrace of a community slowly reopening. It’s a triumphant return to Summer that feels earned. Pool days, snowballs and cold drinks are priorities, but there’s something much more important to be addressed. Blood donations can reach dire shortage levels this time of year, and even though there’s a pandemic slowly entering our rear view, its compounding effects are still being felt.
Dr. Tim Peterson is the medical director of The Blood Center, a non-profit organization that has provided blood donation resources across the Gulf South since 1960. He took some time to expound on the blood shortage we’re experiencing, why it’s such a priority and how people like you can help save a life this summer.
“The summertime is always the most difficult time to maintain an adequate blood inventory at hospitals. The main reason is because colleges and high schools are not in session, and believe it or not, our young people do an outstanding job of donating. About 25 to 30 percent of our blood comes from younger donors.”
While school being out certainly creates a lack of active blood donors, Dr. Peterson says there are more factors at hand. “It’s compounded. Beginning in April we started having a reopening of the community with the lifting of restrictions. Hospitals were then able to do more elective surgeries, like hip or shoulder replacements. Plus, things like angiograms and other preventative procedures that were put on hold during the pandemic are now open.”
“Everything came together in the perfect storm, and put a serious dent in the blood supply for the patients that need it. I’ve been a transfusion medicine specialist for 25 years and this is the worst shortage I’ve ever experienced in my practice.”
So how can you help? Peterson recognizes it can be tough to find time. “Many people are taking vacations, the kids are home, it’s difficult for people. Because we’re not just asking people to give blood, they’re giving something much more valuable and that’s their time. To take an hour or two to come and donate can be hard, and that’s a very special gift that they’re giving.”
To be a donor, you can visit www.thebloodcenter.org to find the nearest blood drive or donation center near you, and donors can even fill out their questionnaire ahead of time to make the process quicker. You can also call 1-800-86-BLOOD to learn more and find out how you can help organize a blood drive.
“We will do anything to help hold a blood drive. It can be to support a family member in need, church or social groups. We will help with any size group to organize a blood drive to get the word out, and give back to the community in need,” Peterson said.
“Most people say they don’t donate because no one has ever asked them, but we’re asking them now.”
1116 McKaskle Dr. Hammond, LA 70401
(985) 340-2320 • (985) 340-2330 Fax
Mon, Tues & Thurs: 11 a.m. -7 p.m., Wed: 9 a.m. -5 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. -3 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. -3 p.m.
2617 Edenborn, Ste A. Metairie, LA 70002
(504) 249-4450 • (504) 249-4451 Fax
Mon, Tues & Thurs: Noon -7 p.m., Wed: 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. -2 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. -3 p.m.
329 North Canal Blvd.Thibodaux, LA 70301
(985) 447-1774 • (985) 447-4093 Fax
Mon: 11 a.m. -7 p.m., Wed: 7 a.m. -3 p.m.
Closed on Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sat
4350 Hwy. 22, Suite K, Mandeville, LA 70471
(985) 377-7007 • (985) 377-7008 Fax
Mon, Tues & Thurs: 11 a.m. -6 p.m., Wed: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. -3 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. -3 p.m.
770 Gause BlvdSlidell, LA 70458
(985) 641-4400 • (985) 641-0785 Fax
Tues -Thurs: 11 a.m. -7 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. -3 p.m.
Sat: 9 a.m. -3 p.m. Closed on Mondays
2701 Manhattan Blvd., Ste. 21-22, Harvey, LA 70058
(504) 263-1190 • (504) 263-1196 Fax
Mon, Tues & Thurs: Noon -7 p.m., Fri: 7 a.m. -3 p.m.,
Sat: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.Closed on Wednesdayst
*Accepts plasma & platelet donations