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North Dakotans Can Help Supply Blood During Shortage

Blood supplies drop in the summer when people are typically on vacation. (SparkFun Electronics/Flickr)
Blood supplies drop in the summer when people are typically on vacation. (SparkFun Electronics/Flickr)
July 14, 2017

FARGO, N.D. – North Dakotans can show what they're made of by giving blood during a seasonal shortage this year.

Caroline McGuire, donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services (UBS), says supplies run low in the summer because it coincides with vacation season and blood centers struggle to find donors.

Centers also struggle when school is out because students are a large source of donations.

On top of that, many people schedule surgeries during the summer, so the need for blood is higher.

McGuire says UBS wants to get ahead of a potential shortage.

"We're just trying to kind of nip it in the bud – to see the problem before it happens and mitigate that – because the last thing that we want to do is not have the blood on the shelves, and right now they are low," she explains.

McGuire says North Dakotans can to go to to find a blood drive near them.

She adds that people who have been told they are ineligible before but still want to donate should try again since the requirements for who can and can't donate blood change frequently.

McGuire says a whole blood donation is one pint of blood compared with the 10 to 12 pints people have in their bodies.

She says donations are sent back to the UBS lab in Fargo and separated into its three components, all used for different purposes.

Red cells carry oxygen and are used in surgeries. The liquid part of the blood, plasma, is used for shock and burn victims. And platelets are primarily used to treat cancer patients.

"Each of those has their own uses, so one donation of whole blood can actually save up to three lives," she explains.

McGuire encourages North Dakotans in Fargo next week to go to UBS's Save Our Summer Blood Drive at West Acres Mall.

As a promotional tool this summer, donors at UBS sites will be entered to win a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND