GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The beginning of the pandemic was a scary time for a lot of people. Though staff members at Versiti Blood Center of Michigan saw signs of hope.
"We did great when the coronavirus came. Everybody came out because they wanted to help and do something," said Versiti's Area Vice President Dawn Kaiser.
Then blood donors began scheduling fewer and fewer appointments as COVID seemed to improve. In a world reopening, Versiti finds itself less crowded. The situation has gotten even worse since summer started, a seasonal trend the blood center is somewhat used to.
"People in the summer right now are traveling. They're busy. They are out and about again, and they forgot about donating blood," Kaiser said.
School not being in session also hurts Versiti. They would typically get a good amount of its donations from drives happening at local schools.
What hasn't gone down is the need for blood. More people traveling means more car accidents and trauma situations.
"We call that a mass transfusion protocol. Somebody who's in an accident could receive 50 plus units of blood," Kaiser said.
In June, Kaiser said Versiti was down 1,000 units of blood. That would've been enough to save the lives of around 20 accident victims.
"Our hospitals are depending on it. We have to tell our hospitals that we can't give them the blood they're asking for," Kaiser said.
"We are always looking for O [type blood]. O is the universal blood type that can be given to anybody in the hospital, especially in a trauma situation."
If eligible, visit Versiti's website to sign up to donate at any of the blood center's locations or a mobile blood drive. People donating during July will be given shirts featuring a design by a local artist.
"If you're looking for something to do to give back to the community, this is a perfect opportunity. You don't have to take out your checkbook. All you have to do is give an hour of your time," Kaiser said.
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