Nationwide Shortage of Blood Donors

Created: 07/28/2014 7:36 PM
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- It's Andrew Nelson's fifth time donating blood at Mayo Clinic's Hilton building.

"Three or four times a year, I think you can come in every three to four months," said Nelson.

But Nelson's enthusiasm for a prod in the arm for a pint of blood is more difficult to come across nowadays, especially in the summer when many are traveling around.

The American Red Cross is urgently asking anyone older than 16 years old that's over 110 pounds to donate blood. They're facing a nationwide shortage.

Over at Mayo Clinic's Donation Center, where Nelson donated blood for 45 minutes on Monday, the situation is not dire by any means, but they are seeing a prolonged, similar trend of less and less donors over time.

"One of the other reasons it's happening is because we are seeing a shift in the donor population," said the Medical Director of the Blood Donor Center at the Hilton Building.

In other words, Dr. Manish Gandhi says the frequent donor population is getting old and there's not enough young folks around lately who are willing to pull up their sleeves.

"It's the sickest of the sick patients who would need blood, so basically when you donate blood, you are essentially saving lives," Dr. Gandhi.

One donation can potentially help around three people. Experts suggest donors to come in at least twice a year, which could save up to six lives.

"That is an ideal donor and that's a donor for which we want to strive towards," said Dr. Gandhi.

The American Red Cross issued an urgent call for donors, they say donations are down 8 percent since May, which could lead to emergency situations in certain areas.

"A study that was done two or three years ago shows that only three percent of the eligible population is donating blood," said Dr. Gandhi.

Nelson is among that small percentage.

"Every time I have the opportunity of having three months to come on in, I definitely look forward to doing it," he said.  

He may just be a sliver of needed blood, but it's a slight sacrifice of his time that could make a difference of a lifetime, or several. 

Photo: ABC 6 News