Blood donor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local health experts say blood donations are always in high demand, but even more so during the summer months.

Doctors at UofL Health say they blood donations fall when the temperature starts to rise, but the demand for that blood remains steady or even increases during the summer months.

"People think blood is just always going to be available whenever they need it, and that's not always the case," said Dr. Claire Meena-Leist, chief of transfusion services for UofL Health. 

Meena-Leist says the number of blood donations plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic -- a development that coincided with hospitals' decisions to cancel elective procedures to conserve supply.

Now that the pandemic is slowing and surgeries are resuming, donated blood is flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, Meena-Leist says people aren't rushing to donate, especially as school blood drives are on hold while classes are out.

School blood drives are a significant source of donations, Meena-Leist says.

Although many hospitals, including University Hospital, say their supply is currently stocked, that blood could disappear quickly with an increase in trauma and surgeries.

"Currently, we have a good blood supply today, but I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring," said Meena-Leist. "We talked about last time that one trauma can use over 100 units of our blood cells. It's just a day-to-day situation. That's why it's important, not only to think about blood donation today, but every day."

Dr. Meena-Leist says only about one-third of the country is eligible to give blood and urges anyone who can to do so as much as possible.

Doctors say anyone interested in giving blood should check with a local donation center to see if he or she is eligible to do so.

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