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Demand for blood donors on the rise, report area blood banks

Northwestern Medicine file photo of a blood drive held in May at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. The nation's blood supply is down about 10%, and more donors are needed.

DeKALB - Area blood banks are again asking for donors as supply decreases and demand is expected to rise in the coming months.

Amanda Haynes, laboratory director with Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee, Valley West and Delnor hospitals, said it’s an ongoing issue that, like many things, has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, donations drop off in warmer months also.

“Ever since [COVID-19], it has been more difficult to sustain adequate levels of blood supply in the communities,” Haynes said. “Many places at least at the height of the pandemic were not supporting blood drives, so for a long time we were at a critical low level.”

As summer approaches, regular donors might give blood less than usual, as seasonal travel schedules increases, people take vacation or are out of town, she said.

According to a news release from Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, a network of blood donation centers across northern Illinois, including at 2428 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, donation shortages during warmer months are ill-timed. Schools are often the sites for blood donations during the year, which also impact lower supplies when school is out.

Summer means more travel, which can mean a greater need for blood because of traumas and accidents.

Type O, both positive and negative, is the highest demand, Haynes said.

“Those are your universal donors,” Haynes said. “We’re always looking for any type, but O positive and O negative are the two that are historically in the more critical supply.”

According to the American Red Cross, Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals because it is the most common blood type. Type O negative is also a universal blood type needed most for emergency transfusions and for immune deficient infants.

Haynes says that Versiti is its primary supplier for the Northwestern Medicine health system.

“There are a number of Versiti locations with Aurora being the location that supplies the hospitals out in the west region,” she said.

While donations have become steadier than at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need still exists.

“It is definitely better than it was at the height of the pandemic, or even a year ago,” said Haynes. “It was bad there for awhile. It is much better, but going into summer, the usage is always high and the supply is usually down a bit.”

To learn or sign up for a DeKalb location appointment at Versisi, go to www.versiti.org/ways-to-give/blood-donation/locations/dekalb.