MORRIS – The winter months’ holiday spirit often doesn’t extend to blood banks, which have seen a drop in donations and are seeking more to meet hospitals’ needs.
Heartland Blood Centers, a blood collection organization that supplies blood to 49 hospitals in the Chicago and northwest Indiana area, including Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers, experienced a shortage of 700 blood units in December, said Jill Moeggenberg, director of mobile operations. This could cause a problem this month if people don’t donate.
“These are typically difficult months for blood banks around the country,” Moeggenberg said. “Around the holidays, in December and January, people are on their breaks and aren’t looking to donate.”
Red blood cells are good for 42 days after donation and platelets are good for three to five days. About 25 percent of Heartland’s blood comes from mobile blood drives at schools. So when schools go on break, the blood supply gets strained.
While the supply takes a hit, Moeggenberg said the demand starts to pick back up mid-January, when people who have held off on elective surgeries during the holidays, start their procedures.
Morris Hospital saw a high demand for blood pick up at the beginning of the year, but aren’t assuming the same will happen this year, lab director Kimberly Wolfer said.
“People either wanted to rush to get the surgeries in before the holidays, or push it after,” Wolfer said. “We definitely need more donors at this time of the year.”
Wolfer said the hospital uses about 1,400 units annually, and gets a little more than 100 unit donations a month.
While the hospital officials hope more people donate blood, the shortage of platelets is even greater, Wolfer said.
Platelet donations are obtained through a longer process, but don’t tire out the donor like blood donations do. They are more valuable because of their short shelf life, needs of the trauma center and to help clot wounds for leukemia patients.
“It’s so important to the operation that we have people coming in to give that time to donate,” Wolfer said. “Heartland supplies blood to so many places. It’s going to help somebody, somewhere down the road.”
Blood bank donation locations
• Braidwood – 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at Immaculate Conception: 110 S. School St.
• Minooka – 3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Chapin’s East Banquets & Catering and Twin Rail Pub, 502 Twin Rail Dr.
• Seneca – 3 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Seneca Fire & Ambulance Services, 121 W. Armour St.