GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Each summer, life-saving blood donations decline -- which puts organizations like Versiti Blood Center of Michigan in a bad place. 

World Blood Donor Day is Friday and the annual celebration of those who voluntarily donate blood serves as a reminder that they're are all the more necessary during the summer.

Versiti joins the World Health Organization’s international movement to honor beacons of hope who save lives through their generous blood donations.

In a show of gratitude, donors who give blood at Versiti’s donor centers and mobile community drives throughout the state will receive a special car windshield sunshade while supplies last.

“Regular blood donations are needed throughout our state every day, particularly in the summer months when we experience nearly a 20 percent drop in donations,” Dawn Kaiser, interim site lead for Versiti Blood Center of Michigan. “By scheduling two blood donation appointments over the next few months and pledging to keep them, you’ll help to ensure that your precious gift will be there when patients are in need over the summer.”

The summer season is also especially challenging because Versiti is without the generous donations it typically receives from high school and college blood drives and because families are occupied with summer activities. Summer also sparks a higher incidence of trauma and other emergency situations, requiring Versiti’s nearly 70 partner hospitals throughout Michigan to be prepared with enough levels of O-negative blood, the universal blood type everyone can receive in an emergency.

“We encourage those who can donate to please give and help our hospitals and their patients this summer,” Kaiser said.

Donating blood takes about an hour. Anyone age 17 or older in good health who meets eligibility requirements is encouraged to give. Parental consent is required for donors age 16 to give. Donors should bring a photo ID that includes their birth date. If those interested in donating blood are wondering if they can, donation eligibility requirements are available online.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-866-642-5663 or visit Versiti Blood Center of Michigan online.

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