The American Red Cross’ blood supply has hit a 15-year low, USA Today reports.
According to the nonprofit’s website, it got 50,000 fewer donations than it expected in June and its supply has dipped to emergency levels. Though summer is typically slow because schools are closed, temperatures heat up and vacationers go away, this year has proven to be worse than usual.
"We just aren't seeing the donors coming through the door right now," American Red Cross spokeswoman Karen Stecher, told USA Today.
The alarming figures may be attributed to a number of factors, including donors having taken off earlier than usual for getaways and the fact that many Red Cross blood drives were canceled because July 4 fell in the middle of the week, the nonprofit announced on its website.
Donor sites across the country are feeling the pinch.
A center in Wichita Falls, Texas is seeing an average of just five walk-in blood donors a week, the Times Record News reports. An additional three donors a week would enable the outpost to maintain its blood supply, Katrina Farmer, North Central Red Cross executive director, told the Huffington Post.
The need demonstrates the value of each person who gives blood. One donor can save three lives, according to the news outlet.
On a national level, in order for the Red Cross to adequately serve patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers, it must collect 17,000 pints every day.
The dearth in blood supply can have far-reaching effects. A physician, for example, may have to postpone an elective surgery if the necessary blood products aren’t readily available, Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said on the nonprofit’s website.
“In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood,” Benjamin said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t get to that point.”
But those who are reluctant to give, can draw inspiration from donors who make giving blood a part of their regular routine.
Jess Vickery, who passed away earlier this month from brain cancer, gave blood 581 times over the course of 25 years, myfoxhouston.com reports.
The do-gooder, who was a retired deputy, was honored by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at its first-ever “Donation Day.”
“He was a wonderful giving man,” Vickery’s daughter told the news outlet. “I’m just very honored to be here and to donate for him.”
To find out how you can donate blood at a local American Red Cross center, click here.
To read even more inspiring stories about committed blood donors, click through the slideshow below.
Dean Willis, Donated 100 Gallons
When Dean Willis' father-in-law needed blood after getting heart-bypass surgery in 1975, he unhesitatingly stepped in to help, <a href="http://www.news4jax.com/news/Man-donating-100th-gallon-of-blood/-/475880/5402806/-/lh0522/-/" target="_hplink">News4ajax.com reports</a>. Since then, the coveted O-positive blood donor has given 100 gallons of blood and saved 2,000 lives. "I guess it's a cliché, but you know, it makes me feel good," Willis <a href="http://www.news4jax.com/news/Man-donating-100th-gallon-of-blood/-/475880/5402806/-/lh0522/-/" target="_hplink">told the news outlet.</a>
Paul Olsen, Donated 400 Times
Paul Olsen, 79, donated his 400th pint of blood in August, according to <a href="http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2011/08/18/main_line_suburban_life/news/doc4e4b20f9daada376545870.txt?viewmode=fullstory" target="_hplink">Mainlinemedianews.com. </a> The Pennsylvania native donates platelets, which is key to helping cancer patients, and gives twice a month. "I really feel good [about giving] because it helps other people," Olsen told the news outlet. He hopes to ultimately hit his 500-pint goal.
Warren Krup, Donated 200 Times
Honored with the "Golden Heart Award" from the Heartland Blood Centers for having donated blood 200 times, Warren Krup continues to give, despite a disability. "I get to sit and take a break, and it saves a life," the 52-year-old Illinois native told the <em><a href="http://couriernews.suntimes.com/news/9584873-418/elgin-mans-200th-blood-donation-gives-inspiration.html" target="_hplink">Courier News.</a></em> "Why wouldn't you want to do that?"
Sparkle, Donates Once A Month
About 40 percent of dogs are universal donors, making Sparkle, a California-based rescue Greyhound, a critical lifesaver for pooches in need. "For every unit of blood that she gives, she will help at least two other dogs," Mary Beth Bartel, Sparkle's owner, <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/health/health_watch&id=8358508" target="_hplink">told ABC. </a> Sparkle donates once a month and her name is included on a 24-hour emergency call list.
Ralph "Rocco" Russo, Donated 300 Times
When Ralph "Rocco" Russo hit his 300th donation at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, nurses honored him with a cake, <a href="http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/30096787/detail.html#ixzz1iwIKvDg5" target="_hplink">the Boston Channel reports.</a> But, the true reward for Russo is knowing that he's helped save hundreds of lives, including Nicole Sorensen, who battled -- and overcame -- cancer when she was 14. "People will give once. People will give twice," Sorensen told the news outlet. "But to give 300 times every other week religiously is incredibly moving."
Barbara Brinkmann, Donating Since She Was 16
Barbara Brinkmann has been donating blood since she was 16-years old, <a href="http://www.kens5.com/home/Blood-donor-drives-away-with-shiny-new-Toyota-Tundra-pickup-truck-136761323.html" target="_hplink">KENS5 reports </a>. "I do it on a regular basis and I enjoy doing it," <a href="http://www.kens5.com/home/Blood-donor-drives-away-with-shiny-new-Toyota-Tundra-pickup-truck-136761323.html" target="_hplink">Brinkmann told the news source</a>. "It's a wonderful way to give back to the community." For her generosity, the San Antonio, Texas resident was rewarded with a brand new 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup truck. Naturally, it's bright red.
Watch Related Video