Blood banks grapple with summer slowdown amid historic blood crisis

With the impending summer dip in donors, blood centers across the U.S. face a tall hurdle during a national blood shortage. 

Six months ago, the organization that supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, Red Cross, declared the first-ever national crisis. Summer has always slowed donors, a trend often attributed to closed schools and people busy on vacations, but with COVID-19 already hurting blood donation numbers, blood banks face an unsteady season. 

“It’s a very challenging time, and it does put a lot of stress on the organization because we take saving lives very seriously,” the executive director of the Arkansas Blood Institute, Mario Sedlock, told radio station KUAR. “We just want to make sure that our hospitals have what they need to take care of the patients and that’s essentially what we’re all about.”

An Ohio blood center issued an emergency plea in mid-June for O-negative donors because of a “dangerously low” supply, and some blood centers are offering free movie tickets and baseball tickets to entice donors.